Warriors need to look elsewhere for Stephen Curry’s understudy

Jessica Wong

The Golden State Warriors previously acquired Brad Wanamaker on a one-year, $2.25 million deal in the offseason with hopes of turning him into a valuable contributor after his productive stint with the Boston Celtics. However, the 31-year-old has underwhelmed and failed to impress in his 31 appearances for the Warriors […]

The Golden State Warriors previously acquired Brad Wanamaker on a one-year, $2.25 million deal in the offseason with hopes of turning him into a valuable contributor after his productive stint with the Boston Celtics. However, the 31-year-old has underwhelmed and failed to impress in his 31 appearances for the Warriors thus far.

Given his dismal performances in recent contests, Golden State is better off finding a younger and more versatile player who they can mold to be a capable reliever of Stephen Curry off the bench. On Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets, Wanamaker turned out to be a liability for the team as he failed to execute down the stretch in a tightly-contested game.

He only chalked up 14 points on 5/15 shooting from the field along with three rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes of action. The blame isn’t entirely on him but the Warriors could’ve won the game if he only drained most of his shots, considering that they only lost by two points in a 102-100 defeat.

The Pittsburgh product is also averaging 4.8 points on 34.8% from the field along with 1.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 16.5 minutes played off the bench. His production is not exactly what you would like to see from a player who was often tasked to sub in for Stephen Curry in most games.

Instead, the Warriors can take a different route and mold a young player in Jordan Poole who already saw action in 57 games with them last season. He averaged 8.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 22 minutes primarily played off the bench. He managed to bump his numbers even more after D’Angelo Russell was shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the latter stages of the 2019-20 season.

In 13 games played after the trade, Poole normed 14.2 points on 48% from the field along with 3.9 assists in 27.2 minutes at the starting point guard spot. However, he didn’t get to carry over that role coming to this season as Curry already came back from a long layoff along with the acquisition of Wanamaker during the offseason.

Still piqued by his potential, the Dubs sent him off to the Orlando Bubble to suit up for their G League affiliate in the Santa Cruz Warriors. Instead of rotting on Golden State’s bench, Poole is averaging over 24.4 points per game, accounting for third-best in scoring inside the bubble. Aside from his production, he is also shooting quite efficiently with 35% from beyond the arc with over nine three-point attempts per game.

His ability to take care of the ball is still a concern but he will eventually get to overcome it if he gets to have more in-game reps, considering that he’s only 21 years old. Despite his impressive performance at the G League level, it remains to be seen whether or not he can bring that level of production when he returns to the league soon.

Luckily for Poole, he remains to be under contract with the Warriors for next year while Wanamaker’s deal is already set to expire after the season. Poole still has plenty of chances to make a stronger case for his eventual call-up as he is set to play out Santa Cruz’s final eight games in the bubble.

The G League season is slated to finish by March 6, only a week before the trade deadline and the All-Star break. Having a strong finish in his campaign will certainly help Poole in his bid to land a bigger role on the Warriors in the months to come. On the other hand, Wanamaker is on a shorter leash and would have to turn things around quickly if he wants to prove his value as a contributor in the Warriors’ second unit.

Be it Jordan Poole or Brad Wanamaker, the Warriors will have to put the player who can produce the best results and will best fit the current dynamic of the team. At the end of the day, the Warriors’ chances of landing a playoff spot will also hinge on their choice on who to play in the backup point guard spot behind Stephen Curry.

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