The Golden State Warriors waited until after they were eliminated from the 2023 NBA Playoffs to admit it, but they have a conundrum.
Following Jordan Poole‘s breakout season in 2021-22, he was essentially labeled as Klay Thompon’s future replacement. One-half of the Splash Brothers, injuries have clearly sapped Thompson of his once famed athleticism, leading to the 33-year-old having major issues on the defensive end.
Meanwhile, Poole shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range in 2021-22, raising his efficiency to 39.1 percent from 3 in the 2022 NBA Playoffs as the Warriors battled their way to a championship. Though Poole has never been regarded as a lockdown defender in the way that Thompson was, the 23-year-old’s quickness and agility wasn’t going to hinder them in comparison.
Unfortunately, that was all at risk of unraveling the moment that Draymond Green threw a hard punch at Poole during a preseason practice. In the biggest scandal of the 2022-23 season, the Warriors’ chemistry crumbled before everyone’s eyes. Then, with Poole demonstrating a lack of maturity throughout the season, people’s empathy dwindled quickly.
As it happens, the habits a team builds during the regular season are routinely highlighted during the NBA Playoffs. This postseason, the disconnect between Poole and the Warriors’ core players — a group whose vocal leader is Green — was under the magnifying glass.
By the time Golden State was downed by the Los Angeles Lakers, it was obvious that the two sides would be better off without each other.
A thought process underscored by Warriors players admitting that the season had a different feel the moment Green struck Poole.
3 must-do Jordan Poole trades Warriors 100% have to make
Even though recency bias routinely prevails in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league, Jordan Poole’s underwhelming performance during the 2023 NBA Playoffs should be taken with a grain of salt.
Given what people know transpired prior to the 2022-23 season, Poole averaging just 10.3 points per game on 34.1 percent shooting from the field this past season should be looked at as an aberration rather than an indication of what to expect from him moving forward. Of course, that becomes exceedingly difficult when popular talking heads have made him the scapegoat for Golden State’s struggles.
This despite Klay Thompson shooting 38.8 percent from the field, Andrew Wiggins shooting 29.7 percent from 3-point range and several role players shooting below 35 percent from deep as well. Even Stephen Curry is at fault, shooting 34.3 percent against the Los Angeles Lakers and underwhelming on the defensive end.
That said, Poole’s substandard performance is cause for alarm for Warriors fans. Furthermore, while opposing teams may have less interest in him now, they could also be intrigued at the possibility of adding him at a discounted price.
In fact, there are several contending teams in their own conference — the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks for example — that could have interest in acquiring Poole this offseason. That said, with Golden State still trying to win a championship themselves, they’re unlikely to trade Poole to a team that they could meet in the NBA Playoffs.
Instead, several Eastern Conference teams should be on the shortlist of potential trade destinations for Poole. Among them, the Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
Jordan Poole to the Raptors
Despite his triumphant success story and status as one of the best players in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors losing veteran point guard Fred VanVleet isn’t going to be the worst thing.
Though a pesky defender and fiery competitor with a high basketball IQ, VanVleet shot the Raptors out of more games than most may admit. Furthermore, it often seemed like Scottie Barnes — the only ‘untouchable’ in Toronto — played better when VanVleet wasn’t dominating the ball.
That said, replacing VanVleet with a player that can create their own shot but has little issue taking a backseat as a facilitator in Jordan Poole would be more fitting for their current core. Especially if Toronto were to allow Barnes to truly emulate Draymond Green’s point-forward role.
In return, the Raptors send a movement shooter with defensive upside in shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. back to Golden State, giving them another potential Splash Brother replacement for the aging Klay Thompson. For salary cap purposes, Toronto also sends locker room leader Thaddeus Young to the Warriors in a move that could pay dividends for a group that seems to need another veteran voice.
Jordan Poole to the Bulls
In this trade, the Golden State Warriors send Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams.
For the Warriors, the trade provides Golden State with a player that can take advantage of all the attention Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson generate from behind the arc in midrange master DeRozan. Furthermore, with DeRozan having steadily developed his playmaking abilities, the Warriors finally have an adequate replacement for the role Andre Iguodala used to hold as a facilitating wing. Lastly, in swapping Kuminga for Williams, they get a player more suited for and willing to man a stretch-four role.
The Bulls, already willing to move on from DeRozan to build around Zach LaVine, acquire a player in Poole that can replace injured point guard Lonzo Ball. Though Poole is often thought of mainly as a scorer and shot creator, he also has strong enough court vision to operate as a full-time lead guard.
Chicago empowering Kuminga as a scorer may be what makes this trade truly worthwhile for them though. Especially with their frontcourt firepower possibly taking a major hit this offseason via the departure of DeRozan and impending free agent Nikola Vucevic.
Jordan Poole to the Bucks
Considering the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks employ Giannis Antetokounmpo, a player that they would likely rather not meet in the NBA Finals due to his status as a two-time MVP, the Golden State Warriors may not be too inclined to complete a trade with them.
Nonetheless, the Bucks have something that the Warriors need, and that’s a dependable perimeter piece outside of Stephen Curry.
Which is where Bucks sharpshooter Khris Middleton comes in.
A multi-positional weapon with the potential to take over games offensively and slow down an opposing team’s best perimeter player when healthy, Middleton has had a couple of untimely injuries over the past couple of seasons. Nonetheless, he’s remained an effective and efficient offensive option, averaging a team-high 23.8 points per game on 46.5 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 percent from 3 during the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
That said, where the Warriors need a reliable shot-maker, the Bucks are lacking shot-creators. Trading Poole to Milwaukee, along with the promising Jonathan Kuminga, should make them more difficult to guard as a team.
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