The Washington Wizards guard Jordan Poole's struggles have been well documented through the first 19 games of the season. His transition from playing for a contender in the Golden State Warriors to leading his own team in Washington hasn't gone according to plan so far. The 24-year-old is struggling with his shot, turnovers, and defensive effort. Has he been the most disappointing player in the 2023-24 NBA season?
In their most recent episode of Dunc'd on Prime, analysts Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux discussed the most disappointing players in the NBA through the first quarter of the season. (subscription required) Here, they mentioned Jordan Poole as one of the candidates for the honor but didn't include him in their top three. Cade Cunningham, Josh Giddey, and Scoot Henderson were some of the names mentioned above Poole in the conversation.
When the Wizards acquired Poole in the offseason, there was an expectation for him to take the next step. Some analysts went so far as to say that he could be the "next James Harden." The word All-Star was being thrown around left and right. Yet, Poole has been nowhere close to that level in a Wizards uniform. In fact, he has been one of the most damaging players in basketball. With Poole on the court, the Wizards are outscored by 18.1 points per 100 possessions, a net rating that is 22.3 worse than when he is on the court.
Those players mentioned above are certainly having extremely underwhelming seasons. Yet, Poole might be in a tier of his own in terms of disappointment.
Poole has a unique combination of high usage and low efficiency that is unprecedented among his peers. According to Basketball Reference, Poole has a usage rate of 28.4% and a True Shooting Percentage of 50.4. He is the only player in the league with those volume and efficiency numbers.
There are only four other players who are even in the ball park of Poole in terms of volume and efficiency. Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle, Cade Cunningham, and Victor Wembanyama are the only players who have a usage rate of over 28% and True Shooting of less than 55%. All of these players are better defenders than Poole, and contribute to their team in other areas. None of their on/off ratings are as negative as Poole's.
The term "most disappointing" is certainly a subjective category. It depends on your priors on a player and your expectations. One can be more disappointed in Cunningham or Poole, depending on what they were expecting from each of them.
Regardless of whether Poole is indeed the most disappointing player this season, it's clear that he hasn't lived up to expectations. The Washington Wizards fans need to be patient throughout this rebuild, but it certainly hasn't been the most promising of starts for the Jordan Poole experiment.