Dub Nation got a slim glimpse of the future Sunday night.
The developmental timelines for Jordan Poole and James Wiseman haven’t overlapped much in their time as teammates on the Warriors. Golden State drafted Poole with the No. 28 overall pick in 2019 and selected Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick in 2020.
While Poole has been on a steady ascent since Wiseman joined the organization, the promising big man has had a touch-and-go career so far. Now Poole, 23, is entering Year 4 and Wiseman, 21, is entering Year 3. Both players are healthy. Together? They could be a hard-to-handle duo for the Warriors second unit this season.
"I just have to figure out his flow, his game speed and it'll come together," Wiseman said Sunday.
Warriors center Kevon Looney said he’s eager to see how Poole and Wiseman grow together this season.
“James is an elite rim roller and he’s somebody who can shoot it,” Looney said. “When we got a guard like Jordan who can put so much pressure on the rim and shoot the 3-ball, it’s tough to guard. We’ve been guarding them in practice and all training camp and we are really great as a team, but sometimes we struggle guarding those two.
“They still got a lot to build on. They gotta get their chemistry right and that should come with time and experience and game reps. But they’ve been doing a great job of growing together.”
Poole and Wiseman absolutely dissected the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday during the third quarter, when Poole scored 11 straight points using screens from Wiseman before dropping him a sweet dime to him for a dunk to wrap up the sequence.
Guard Donte DiVincenzo noticed that the Lakers had no answer for the Poole-Wiseman duo so he kept calling the same action for them. Though forward JaMychal Green approached the 3-point line for a screen during one play, it was mostly the youngsters picking apart the defense.
“That’s a really intriguing pick-and-roll combination,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “James has gotten much better this preseason in terms of his spacing and his awareness of when to dive and when to be in the dunker spot, when to come up and set a step up. … He’s such a lob threat around the rim, that pick-and-roll combination with Jordan should be a good one.”
The starting lineup could remain in flux depending on the reintegration of Draymond Green, who is taking an indefinite leave of absence after punching Poole during a practice last week. But there’s a very good chance we could see Poole and Wiseman setting the tone for Golden State’s bench mob to begin the season.
Wiseman had a tendency to settle for mid-range jumpers during his abbreviated 2019-20 rookie campaign when he played just 39 games due to a torn meniscus. We didn’t get to see him play beyond three games with the Santa Cruz Warriors this past season as he underwent a bumpy rehab. In the limited preseason action so far, Wiseman has shown the ability to hit a jumper, but it appears he’s rolling to the hoop more for easy buckets.
The Warriors don’t have a true big man vertical threat like Wiseman, the 7-footer who often towers over the opposition with his huge wingspan. With their array of scorers, the Warriors don’t need him to put up double-digit shots per game either. Wiseman said he’s been focused on shot selection as he progresses in his career.
“Obviously, I learned all season last year,” Wiseman said. “Just the correlation between that, is less is more for me. I don’t got to do as much. Just keep it simple and just do the stuff so my team can win, impact the game in small ways. The small things make the big things happen.”
While putting the ball in Poole’s hands can put the opposition in a tough spot, he might also have the chance to work more off the ball this season now that the Warriors have a bona fide backup ball handler in DiVincenzo.
There’s only one Steph Curry, but Kerr said he thinks Poole can learn a lot by watching Steph move without the ball.
"Jordan’s learning from the best ever, in terms of being able to play on and off the ball,” Kerr said.
This season will be a big one for both players.
For Wiseman, he’s due to make $9.6 million this year and wants to put together a solid campaign to convince the Warriors to pick up his $12.1 million club option for 2023-24.
Poole’s reps are currently negotiating a rookie contract extension with an Oct. 17 deadline, as he can become a restricted free agent next year if a deal isn’t consummated. His market seems to be in the four-year, $120 million range after Tyler Herro’s extension with the Miami Heat, but it’s conceivable Poole could play himself into the range of his eligible max deal -- five years, $188 million -- with an All-Star season if the Warriors can't get something done this week.
Poole is the ringleader of the next wave of Warriors that also includes 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, and intriguing 2022 draftees Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins. That’s a lot of young, homegrown talent aged 23 or younger.
Judging from Kerr’s comments, the Warriors don’t want to see Poole walk anytime soon.
“He’s someone that we’re going to rely on for years to come,” Kerr said. “That’s exciting. We got a lot of young players but Jordan is by far the most advanced and we’re gonna lean heavily on him in the future.”