The former Michigan Wolverine went from showing a lot of promise during his rookie year to being demoted to the G League because he played so little during the 2020-21 season. He played 11 games with Golden State’s G League affiliate before they recalled him.
“His rookie year, he was lost, frankly,” Kerr said, per The Athletic. “But most rookies are. The game is different. The pace is different, the athleticism. What I admired about JP from the start was his understanding of how much work it would take to get where he wanted to go.”
How it started ➡️ How it’s going pic.twitter.com/jOi0SbRkMy— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 16, 2022
Poole started the first 28 games of the 2021-22 season, with the Warriors going 23-5 before Coach Steve Kerr benched him to make way for Klay Thompson’s triumphant return from a two-season absence. Poole has repeatedly answered adversity through his first three seasons in the League.
When his rookie season was cut short by the pandemic, Poole reportedly lived at the gym and fully dedicated himself to improving his skillset. When he was sent down to the G League, Poole took full advantage of the opportunity by dominating on the court with his shifty handle and automatic jumper. Poole came back with unshakeable confidence and a chip on his shoulder when he came back.
“You go through different stages — high school, AAU, college,” Poole said. “There’ll be adversity. You just gotta have faith and have confidence. Self-belief will take you a very long way. Obviously, you mix that in with hard work and an open mindset, and anything is possible.
“Obviously,” he continued, digging into his bag of perspective, “people will try to write you off, and they’ll have things to say. That just comes with it. People will say good things. People say bad things – But as long as you focus and you have tunnel vision, and you lock in. Once you set your mind to something and you come up with a plan to do it, everything else takes care of itself. So it was just an amazing feeling not only for me but for my family. They put in so much time, so much money, and a lot of things that you can’t repay them for. So it’s just amazing to have them be a part of this as well. And my teammates who helped me get here. We can go down the entire line just talking about it. But it was a very, very special, life-changing moment.”
Now, the Warriors have rewarded his ability to persevere with a four-year, $140 million dollar extension. When Poole signed the contract, he couldn’t help but smile as he put ink to paper in Myers’ office.
“I couldn’t stop smiling,” Poole said Sunday. “I really tried to stop smiling. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”
Poole’s deal signifies Golden State’s dedication to solidifying its future. It’s also a sign of things to come as the Warrior starts to contemplate their future without the foundational members of the dynasty. Stephen Curry is locked in for four more years while Draymond Green and Klay Thompson wait to see how their extension negotiations go.
When asked about the fallout of his altercation with Green, Poole responded diplomatically, only saying he and Green our professionals and that they “plan on handling ourselves that way.”
“In regards to the Draymond situation,” Poole said, addressing the altercation publicly for the first time, “you know, he apologized, and we’re professionals. We plan on handling ourselves that way. We’re gonna play basketball, and everybody in the locker room and on our team knows what it takes to win a championship. And we’re gonna do that on the court. I mean, that’s really all I have to say on the matter. We’re here to win a championship and keep hanging banners.”
It remains to be seen just how the Warrior’s dynamic will be changed, if at all, this season. Kerr called the situation” the biggest crisis that we’ve ever had” Knowing that the Warriors have been able to wither plenty of storms is a testament to their culture. What happens this season will be the ultimate test of the Warrior’s way and their”Strength in Number” mantra that resulted in four championships.