Jordan Poole, more than Jonathan Kuminga, is crucial for the Warriors to bounce back

The Warriors released Jonathan Kuminga from bench purgatory Friday night in New Orleans, and he spent 38 minutes making a compelling claim for more playing time.

JK will get his wish, coach Steve Kerr says, but it wouldn’t matter as much as it should. He’s not the guy who can fill their most pressing need.

It’s Jordan Poole.

Poole’s skill is key to fixing a second unit that stumbled in the first 10 games. He is the dynamic catalyst, the main ball handler, the most consistent scorer. We can speculate all season as to what might be behind his inconsistency, but that won’t change the fact that he’s in the best position to pull this group out of the mud.

He didn’t do much for Golden State’s B team — minus Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins — in a 114-105 loss to the Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center.

Poole scored a team-high 20 points but shot 5 of 18 (27.8%) from the field while the other four starters shot a collective 63.6%. His nine assists were neutralized by his five turnovers.

“He’s trying too hard,” Kerr said. “Jordan tries too hard to create every play. He is at his best when there is flow in the game, he plays with and without the ball, getting opportunities to catch and shoot.

And it’s not a one-game phenomenon. Poole is shooting 30.0% from the field in his last three games, including 22.7% from range. He has more turnovers (14) than assists (13).

After a five-game streak in which Poole played very well, sometimes exquisitely, he grounded. He dribbles too much, defends less and completely betrays his prodigious skills.

“The NBA is filled with the greatest athletes in the world,” Kerr said. “Trying to dribble these athletes over and over again is not going to be a winning formula. The movement of the ball is crucial in trying to win at this level.

“It’s Jordan, it’s for Steph, it’s for Klay, it’s for Draymond. And that’s how we’ve always played.”

Less dribbling, more passing. If this sounds like a post aimed primarily at JP, it certainly is. And Kerr wasn’t done.

“The ball has to move,” he said. “You have to trust the passing to put the defense in a tight spot where all of a sudden the defense is trying to recover and you’re attacking closures and a scrappy defense rather than attacking a one-on-one guy. head, with four guys standing behind him in a shell drill. And that’s what we’re looking for a lot. So we need to loosen up the defense by moving the ball and getting our offense into better pace.

Still, Poole’s most egregious transgression against the Pelicans came on defense.

Early in the second quarter, he kicked a 3-pointer while being disrupted by the pesky Jose Alvarado. The shot missed, but what burned the Warriors was Poole’s failure to get back on defense. Alvarado did, and he was rewarded with a wide-open 3-point missile that prompted Kerr to call timeout before the ball fell through the net.

Given the Warriors’ defensive issues this season, their leader can’t afford to be so careless on a night when Curry, Green, Thompson and Wiggins are watching from the bench. Especially when defense is the facet most often cited by the coaching staff as an area where Poole needs to improve.

The Warriors have high expectations of JP, based on his performance last season and in the playoffs, and his play so far has been wildly inconsistent.

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Even with a five-game losing streak and a 3-7 record, Golden State’s starting five has been solid. It was when the bench was convened, with Poole as leader, that things went haywire.

Kuminga’s energy could provide a boost, as could an improved James Wiseman and the ground stretch ability of a JaMychal Green still looking for his 3-ball.

But the effectiveness of this unit will mainly be dictated by JP. He sets the pace. If he continues to struggle, so will he.

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