Klay Thompson's message to Jordan Poole during shooting struggles




 

Klay's message of confidence during JP's shooting struggles originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Staring at the box score after the Warriors' 124-107 win vs. the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night at Chase Center, two things stood out for one player off the bench.

Jordan Poole scored only eight points in the victory and struggled shooting, yet he was a plus-19 in plus/minus. That was the best of the bench bunch and third-best overall, behind Andrew Wiggins' plus-28 and Draymond Green's plus-21. In fact, it was Poole's second-best plus/minus of the season.

Despite his low scoring figures, Steve Kerr made it clear he was happy with Poole's performance. The 23-year-old gave Golden State winning activity at both ends, dished five assists and had one block. But Kerr knows Poole is frustrated right now.

He made only three of his 15 shot attempts, missed all eight of his tries from long distance and was 2-for-3 at the charity stripe. Those aren't the kind of numbers that saw Poole grow into a star a season ago.

Up until recently, Klay Thompson was the one searching for his shooting stroke. After a team meeting where Green insisted on Thompson slowing everything down and trusting his teammates, along with Klay's hiatus from social media, the game has come easier to the veteran and he's splashing down shots left and right again.

"I just tell him I've been there, many times," Thompson said Friday after Warriors shootaround when asked about his advice for Poole. "Every season that's happened to me. I just tell him to play with great intentions, play with that great confidence and he will have a 36-point game again on 20 shots.

"He's too great of a player not to."

It's no coincidence that Klay used those two numbers: 36 points, 20 shots. That's how many attempts it took Poole to score that exact scoring figure on Nov. 14 against the San Antonio Spurs.

Starting in place of Thompson on the second night of a back-to-back, Poole went 13-for-20 from the field. He was 5-for-10 from 3-point range, 5-for-6 at the free-throw line and added two assists, three steals and one block. All he needed was 29 minutes to score the second-most points of his career, and post a plus-33.

Since then, though, his shot has gone ice cold. Over the last five games, one start, Poole is averaging 11.3 points while shooting 31.7 percent from the field and 20 percent on threes.

Thompson knows the difficulties of staring at those numbers. He knows the pain in that as a sharpshooter. He fully believes in Poole, and is keeping his message simple to his teammate: It will all get better.

"Understand that we're all human," Thompson said. "We play 100 games a year. There's going to be stretches where you're not your best, there's going to be stretches where you're unstoppable. It's just about staying even-keel through it all.

"I just tell JP to lean on his teammates, because I know what it's like to shoot 3-for-14 or 4-for-18. It's not fun. You take great pride in your game. It hurts. You go to home that night and you just don't feel good, even when you win, because you feel like you let your teammates down. You want to play better and you kind of get in your own way. I'm a culprit of that and I love JP.

"He really cares, he wants to be great. People might think that's a sign of weakness when you get frustrated, but I think the exact opposite. I think that means he's extremely passionate about his performance, and that's going to lead to greatness."

Poole's care and work ethic are part of what made the Warriors trust the course with him, even when things weren't looking too bright for him. He has been seen making his way to the Warriors' practice court after nights where the ball won't trickle through the nets, and that has been the case behind closed doors too.

RELATED: Can Kuminga fill Warriors' GP2 void as spark off bench?

Through 19 games this season, Poole has shined as a starter but is searching for his footing in his role as the Warriors' Sixth Man. His points per game are down from 18.5 last season to 15.7 this season. His shooting numbers -- 40.7 percent from the field, 31.3 percent on 3-point attempts and 83.6 percent on free throws -- are his worst since his rookie year.

Like plenty of other Warriors, Poole is adjusting to this roster construction and learning his part. The Warriors know a Poole Party can come at any moment. When it does on a night where Klay and Steph Curry have it going, watch out.

Patience has paid off for a 32-year-old future Hall of Famer after early struggles this season. The same certainly can be true for the much younger star who has the same aspirations in leading the Warriors to the next generation.

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