Washington Wizards: The coaching staff has failed Jordan Poole

Washington Wizards v Golden State Warriors
Washington Wizards v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Jordan Poole has been wildly inconsistent in his first season with the Washington Wizards. Poole came into the season as the expected star for the team after showing flashes of being a dynamic scorer during his time with the Golden State Warriors. In fact, plenty of people thought he would take the same path as James Harden, from Sixth Man to stardom. Unfortunately, that is nowhere near happening. All we have seen are boneheaded plays and viral memes. It's also safe to say, however, that the blame for Poole’s poor performances isn’t just on him but also on the coaching staff. 

Poole scored 20+ points in 10 games out of 31 so far this season. He is averaging 17 points per game despite the coaching staff failing to put Poole in situations where he can get easier looks. During his time with the Warriors, Poole was not only able to play with multiple scoring options but also, under a coaching staff that made the game easier for him. Winning basketball involves players sharing the ball and moving off the ball, which is what the Warriors built their championship system on.

Wes Unseld Jr, on the other hand, is the type of coach who lets his stars go one-on-five offensively. During the time Unseld Jr has coached the team, it has been the same kind of system with no real ball movement. Stars are isolated on the top of the key and may call for a pick and roll, while the rest of the team stands around. No player movement, no cutting (besides Corey Kispert), and no sets to get the stars' easy looks. During Bradley Beal’s time with the team last year, WUJ would almost always call isolation for Beal at the top at the end of games and the result didn’t go how they wanted. There is plenty of evidence that this is not winning basketball.

Poole clearly felt he was shackled from being able to let loose on offense with the Warriors. He wanted the same freedom as Steph Curry but he has to understand a few things. Curry had earned the right to be able to take any shot he wants, good or bad. Curry has been doing this long before Poole came in and has made a great career in doing so. Also, a lot of the shots come from Curry moving relentlessly off the ball. He works hard to condition his body to run around countless screens and beat his defender without even dribbling to make the game easier for himself.

Poole needs to adapt his game similarly. But also, this can only work if the team is designed to play that way. The coaching staff has not shown any sign of adjusting to this type of play style. The players don’t seem to want to play that way either, seemingly looking to go create their own offense. 

For Poole to be successful, the team has to change their whole identity and makeup. Teams are successful when they can generate easy looks for each other. The game of basketball can be so much easier if they embrace the simple things and share the ball. Poole played in a system like that and needs to bring it to his new team as the leader if he wants to reach the next level in his growth.

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