Warriors Notes: Poole, Porter, Kuminga, Wiggins

Before the controversy over Ja Morant‘s injured knee that dominated the postgame talk after Saturday’s GrizzliesWarriors game, there was already a strong focus on his matchup with Jordan Poole, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. After three days of hearing questions about his defense following Morant’s 47-point explosion in Game 2, Poole responded by taking the ball at Morant repeatedly Saturday night.

Both players were selected in the 2019 draft, but while Morant was the second pick and his path to stardom was quick, Poole was taken at No. 28 and had to live with an early label of being a bust before proving that he can play. He welcomes the opportunity to measure himself against Morant, Thompson writes, and he responded to a challenge laid down by his veteran teammates to keep competing no matter how many times he’s targeted on defense.

“It’s going to keep happening,” Stephen Curry said. “Whether it’s me, him, whoever. That’s the nature of the playoffs. But you just have to take that challenge seriously. You have to have some pride around it, knowing that they are trying to put you in the actions for a reason. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get a stop every time. It just means you did your job.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • The team’s most important offseason addition has turned out to be Otto Porter, who signed a veteran’s minimum contract last summer, according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Porter’s numbers — 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots — didn’t stand out on Saturday, but he was plus-30 in 24 minutes of action and ranks second on the team at plus-76 in the playoffs. According to Kawakami, Golden State tried to sign Patty Mills and Nicolas Batum to a mid-level deal last summer, but turned to Porter when Mills and Batum chose other teams.
  • Rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga was the newest member of the starting lineup Saturday night, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Coach Steve Kerr wants to keep Poole in a reserve role and there are spacing issues when Kevon Looney plays alongside Draymond Green, so Kerr opted for Kuminga, who scored 18 points and matched up well when he was switched onto Morant.
  • Andrew Wiggins set a personal playoff record with 15 points in the first half Saturday, adding another dimension to the Warriors’ potent offense, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “That’s what we’ve been asking Wiggs to do all year … put your head down and get to the hole,” Green said. “It’s very hard to stop him from getting to the basket. It’s bigger than just dunks. The way he’s been rebounding and the physicality that he’s been playing with and boxing out … he’s been doing an incredible job no matter who he gets matched up on.”
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