Steph Curry empathizes with Jordan Poole’s late-game turnover struggles

Steph empathizes with Poole’s late-game turnover struggles originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area

Warriors guard Jordan Poole recently found himself in scrutiny for costly late turnovers.

Carelessness with the basketball has been a thorn in Poole’s side all season long, as he is the NBA’s co-leader in total turnovers. But the biggest flaw in his otherwise electric brand of basketball has been put under a microscope lately as his Warriors role di lui inflates without the injured Steph Curry on the court.

That’s something Curry can relate to, dating back to his early years in the NBA.

“You’re a victim of your own expectations in the sense of, like, he’s demonstrated he has the ability to be trusted with the ball in his hands and make big plays,” Curry said after participating in Warriors practice Friday. “Whether you want to compare it to me or anybody else that’s trying to take that next step as a go-to scorer and a closer, you’re going to go through those learning lessons.”

Since Dec. 3, the first of 16 consecutive games Poole has started, the Warriors guard has committed 70 total turnovers — an average of 4.4 per game, which tops the NBA in that span.

His most recent turnover was perhaps the ugliest. the Warriors trailed the Detroit Pistons by one point with 11 ticks left Wednesday night. Poole had the basketball in his hands with a potential heroic moment in his grasp.

Instead, the guard stumbled and lost possession of the basketball, which the Pistons scooped up and turned into two free throws on the other end.

Poole undoubtedly has made a positive impact on the Warriors this season. He has dropped over 40 points twice. He averaged 30.2 points per game over the Warriors’ season-long five-game winning streak.

Poole is the Warriors’ natural fit to fill Curry’s scoring void, but that task nearly is impossible for even the game’s most talented offensive players, much less for a 23-year-old guard still learning how to close out games.

“I used to get benched down the stretch in big games my second year in the league,” Curry said. “It was because I had a lot of careless turnovers throughout the course of the game. I necessarily wasn’t the most trustworthy guy at the time to close out the game even though I was slowly getting better.

“Just that time period in my career, I remember very well because it wasn’t given to me. I had to go earn it and figure out how to prove yourself trustworthy with the ball over the course of volume reps so when you get the opportunity to close games that you’re ready for it.”

Poole has played the third-most clutch-time minutes — defined by a five-point scoring margin in the final five minutes — for Golden State this season, trailing only Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He has committed a team-high eight turnovers in those 62.6 minutes.

“I went through them myself back in the day where you have all the right intentions, you’re in those positions because you want that moment,” Curry said. “You want the ball. You have ultimate confidence in yourself. But it doesn’t always click right away.

“One thing you can’t do is lose confidence in yourself. You can’t overthink it. Look at the film, understand what decisions you made, what decisions you could have made and not be afraid of when that moment comes back because it’s going to come back to you. Once you do get over that hump, it’s a real unlock in terms of your career. He’s got a long road ahead of him as being a guy who is going to finish games and be a guy with the ball in his hands. He’ll figure that out.”

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Curry also said Poole taking responsibility for his late-game miscues is a trait of a player on the road to becoming a trustworthy scorer in the clutch, a sentiment Thompson agreed with after the Warriors’ loss to Detroit.

“I told him in the locker room there’s a reason I threw him the ball towards the end of the regulation is because he’s like that; he’s a clutch player,” Thompson told reporters postgame. “He’s a shot creator, and we would not have been on this win streak without him.

“We’re going to continue to trust him with the ball in his hands because he’s like an engine that makes us go.”

Poole, in the first year of a four-year, $123 million extension he signed in October, has plenty of room to grow. The outline to become a reliable clutch player is there, a path written by Curry himself.

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