Jordan Poole has gotten off to a rocky shooting start this season, hitting just 24 percent of his 3-pointers through the Golden State Warriors’ first six games. He’s not going to quit firing. The man is a straight-up gunner. On Wednesday, he found his target and tore it to shreds.
Poole finished Golden State’s 114-92 win over the Charlotte Hornets with 31 points. He made seven of his 16 3-pointers. Twenty-two of those points, including six of his 3s, came in the first half. Over a three-minute stretch toward the end of the second quarter, Poole ran off four triples in a whirlwind blur to blow the roof off the Chase Center.
Poole was so hot, the Hornets had to trap him … with Stephen Curry on the court.
First, Charlotte rushed two at Poole off a screen and Poole passes over the top to create a man-up advantage, which ignited a tic-tac-toe passing sequence that results in a wide-open Andrew Wiggins corner 3. On the next possession, the Hornets just flat out blitzed Poole with two defenders as soon as he crossed half court while Curry stood idle on the wing.
As you can see, the Warriors got a high-quality shot out of both these possessions. That’s Curry-like impact from Poole, clearing the way for his teammates to play four against three in wide-open space as he drags two defenders out of the play by merely existing.
Put this in the “things you don’t often see” file. Traps this far away from the basket are reserved for the most lethal shooters and scorers on the planet. Curry. Damian Lillard. Trae Young. James Harden. Theses are measures of desperation, when you have no chance to stop a superstar player and would rather take your chances playing a man down on the back side.
It would be wild enough for Poole, who spent time in the G-League as recent as last season, to get this kind of defensive treatment on its own. But with Curry on the court? Think about what the Hornets are saying here: That they would rather let Curry, the greatest shooter to ever live, participate on the back end of a trap, in 4-on-3 situation, than let Poole get another shot off.
Curry’s presence on the wing, of course, kept a third defender occupied (LaMelo Ball and Cody Martin stayed glued to him on these actions), and now the Hornets are playing two against three, which is an even greater disadvantage. You would have to scour years of film to find even one or two examples of teams trapping someone on the Warriors other than Curry while Curry is also on the court.
Even players like Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant have largely been afforded the opportunity to play in single coverage, if not in man-up situations, because Curry is always the one getting trapped. I’m not sure Curry even knew what to do when he saw Poole getting his normal attention. He just stands there and watches his team get a great shot courtesy of someone else’s gravity.
Curry shouldn’t get used to it. He’ll be back to getting trapped in no time. But it goes to show you how hot Poole was on Wednesday, and how dangerous he is, not only for his own scoring but for the opportunities he opens up for teammates, when he’s in that kind of zone.