Hoops Mailbag: What To Expect From Jordan Poole Comment Count

Ace April 9th, 2018 at 4:06 PM

On the rise, but where's the ceiling? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I was going to do a longer mailbag on next year's team today. You'll be shocked to see which question I decided had to broken off into its own post instead:

Poole is clearly going to be the focus of the offense and hinted at his talent this year.  But how much can we really expect from him considering how little he played this season?

Everyone wants to compare him to Stauskas, but Nik was playing starters minutes as a freshman and was very efficient.  Poole played limited bench minutes and saw his efficiency fluctuate a lot and struggled on defense.  Would sophomore Levert or Irvin be better comparisons?

Chicago, IL

Ask me to talk about Jordan Poole, you say? Let me warm up for a sec.

Alright. Let's go.

I am, as you probably expect, a Jordan Poole optimist. This isn't without reason, however, and said reason goes well beyond his personality. Setting the expectation at sophomore Nik Stauskas, when Stauskas won Big Ten Player of the Year, may be a bit lofty—I still lean closer to that than sophomore Caris LeVert, who played a very promising but less effective second banana to Stauskas for that 2013-14 season.

I've used Bart Torvik's invaluable site to pull the statistics of Poole and his comparables against top-50 (venue-adjusted) competition. When you ignore minutes and usage for a moment—two factors with clear explanations I'll get to momentarily—there's a clear match for Poole: Stauskas.

  G %Min ORtg USG eFG% AST% TO% FTM-FTA (%) 2PM-2PA (%) 3PM-3PA (%)
Burke '12 17 91.2 95.9 27.8 48.8 27.7 21.6 33-55 (60.0%) 62-126 (49.2%) 26.-81 (32.1%)
Stauskas '13 21 72.9 118.0 15.0 54.5 6.6 11.4 38-44 (86.4%) 31-58 (53.4%) 32-87 (36.8%)
LeVert '13 18 21.1 87.9 16.8 41.5 7.8 14.5 5-10 (50.0%) 9-25 (36.0%) 7-22 (31.8%)
Irvin '14 21 37.4 119.3 18.2 61.1 2.1 8.9 8-10 (80.0%) 11-28 (39.3%) 35-76 (46.1%)
Poole '18 18 29.9 118.8 22.4 56.2 7.7 9.0 27-34 (79.4%) 17-32 (53.1%) 16-41 (39.0%)

Trey Burke, mostly thrown in as an extra data point, had far different usage as a pure point guard. The rest are wings and therefore more comparable. The numbers that give me optimism regarding Poole are his two-pointers—taken with relative frequency, finished with efficiency—and his combination of high usage, extant assist rate, and low turnover rate.

The former is what separates Poole from LeVert, whose finishing took a long time to come along. Poole is already an impressive finisher at the rim for a guard; according to hoop-math, he made 25-of-36 (69.4%) shots at the basket with only eight assisted makes. That's almost exactly on pace, albeit on lower volume, with freshman Stauskas—38-of-55 (69.1%), 13 assisted—and way ahead of LeVert, who needed assists on four of his five makes at the rim as a freshman. Poole has already produced as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, and while he's not quite on Stauskas's level there yet, he was better as an isolation scorer—and Poole usually drew more of the defense's attention when he was out there than Stauskas did when surrounded by Burke, Hardaway, GRIII, et al.

Expect more of this next season. [Campredon]

The latter is what separates Poole from Irvin, who jacked threes and did little else as a freshman. Poole not only took two-pointers with much greater regularity, he actually passed the ball and displayed some tantalizing potential in that department. Irvin got exposed in his sophomore year when LeVert when down and he took on a lead role before he was ready; Poole looks ready (and certainly eager) to have the ball in his hands as much as possible.

As a refresher, here's how this group of players fared as sophomores against top-50 venue-adjusted competition: 

  G %Min ORtg USG eFG% AST% TO% FTM-FTA (%) 2PM-2PA (%) 3PM-3PA (%)
Burke '13 21 89.9 113.1 30.3 49.1 37.3 13.9 82-104 (78.8%) 91-204 (44.6%) 43-113 (38.1%)
Stauskas '14 21 90.9 120.8 23.5 56.8 18.6 13.6 89-108 (82.4%) 52-111 (46.8%) 55-126 (43.7%)
LeVert '14 21 87.7 101.2 22.9 48.2 17.0 17.5 52-71 (73.2%) 59-139 (42.4%) 33-86 (38.4%)
Irvin '15 15 88.9 95.2 24.6 48.5 10.2 12.5 19-33 (57.6%) 45-98 (45.9%) 33-97 (34.0%)

The Stauskas leap remains spectacular. He significantly upped his usage, improved his efficiency while taking on a much greater role as a distributor, and even improved significantly as a three-point shooter despite taking way more of his shots off the bounce.

I still think Poole can do something quite similar. He may not have played the early minutes Stauskas did, but he played a lot of important minutes and took on a bigger role when he saw the floor. Meanwhile, a lot of what he did on the court looked downright Stauskas-esque. Both are known for their unabashed three-point gunning, but what really separates the two is their ability to score from all three levels (rim, midrange, three).

Stauskas was a solid midrange shooter, especially when he could step into one off a screen. Poole was downright great from midrange in a small sample, going 12-for-24 on jumpers inside the arc, per Synergy. If you give him space, he's going to rise and fire.

Stauskas and Poole both learned early that the threat of a pull-up three combined with a quick first step poses serious problems to defenders. Stauskas had a ton of success on baseline drives—like his first Game, Blouses dunk—because defenses had to worry so much about keeping him out of the middle of the floor, where he was most likely to pull up for a jumper. Poole provides that same threat with, I'd argue, a quicker first step.

While Poole won't put up Burke-like assist numbers—and won't need to with Zavier Simpson likely manning the point—he could approach a Stauskas-level rate. He's shown the ability to find the open man off the drive, he keeps the ball moving in the offense despite his gunner reputation, and he's got some flashy dimes in his arsenal.

As for defense, I'm actually quite optimistic about Poole's ability on that end of the floor. While his freshman mistakes were numerous, they were notable in part because they were such an exception compared to the rest of the defense; they were also almost entirely mental. Poole, much more than Stauskas, has the lateral athleticism and defensive instincts to be an impact player on that end. He's already displayed potential as a ball-hawk, posting a 2.5% steal rate that wasn't far behind Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske for best on the squad. He'll challenge shots. He needs to focus more on that end of the court; an added year of experience and more consistent minutes should help.

I'm not saying Poole is going to be the Big Ten's best player next year. Not necessarily, at least. But I believe, barring a Wagner return, he's going to be the centerpiece of the offense, and I fully expect him to contend for first-team all-conference honors if that's the case. Poole after a summer of Camp Sanderson, immersing himself in Beilein's offense, and practicing pull-up threes off the high screen is going to be a boatload of fun.



April 9th, 2018 at 4:26 PM ^

One question:  Do you have any sense, or does anyone out there know, what Wagner is going to do? On the one hand, you would expect him to declare and to make the jump. On the other hand, several have said, including yourself, iirc, that he isn't a rotation player in the NBA, because of his defense, in particular. It seems like there is more reason for him to return than there would be for someone like Burke, LeVert, or this year, Bridges and Jackson.


April 9th, 2018 at 7:24 PM ^

I also am wondering, but haven’t wanted to make a thread, asking has anyone (with the lay of the land) gotten any vibes or heard any buzz about what direction Moe is leaning in.

Not that I did not ask if anyone thinks coming back would be good for him. Or, does anyone want him to come back. Duh.

If anyone has heard whatever from whoever. FOAF, counterstrike, whatever. I’m not asking for credibility. If you’ve heard buzz of whatever sort, please share. And if it sounds sketchy or whatever, blame me and not the poster. I’m the one here asking for any nuggets, wise or no. Anyone? Anyone?


April 9th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

Is nobody concerned about Poole's desire to draw fouls messing with his form and preventing him from reaching his potential as a shooter. Poole with nobody around and Poole with a defender closing out is two completely different shots because of his leg kick, I think it really hurts his ability to become a 45% 3 point shooter like Stauskas became.  He shouldn't be on his ass after shots as much as he is.

He's definitely more athletic on the defensive side.


April 9th, 2018 at 5:33 PM ^

Plus he'll have a year of Zavier Simpson chewing him out whenever he makes a mistake. There hasn't been a Beilein team with a returning defense like this, and one where the players are leading that mentality. Stauskas, Burke, etc. - these guys didn't have an X, Matthews, or Teske to push them to develop on the defensive end like Poole will have. 


April 9th, 2018 at 5:01 PM ^

I'm probably on my own here going against the tide at mgoblog.

I think Livers is going to be better.. He cooled off down the stretch but to my eyes he's the best pro prospect left on the team with Vogz gone and more likely to take up his usage.


April 9th, 2018 at 5:11 PM ^

Quite a bit. Think he's being underestimated by a lot of people because he faded a bit down the stretch.

Jordan Poole is the best returning pro prospect on the team, and unless Charles Matthews develops his shot (not out of the question), I don't think it's particularly close. If we're going purely by upside, Poole can be a lead guard in the NBA; Matthews and Livers probably top out as NBA role players (which is still quite good!). Teske is an intriguing NBA prospect as well but he's limited by the direction the game is headed.

Poole is a guy who could be gone to the NBA next year if he plays to his potential.


April 9th, 2018 at 6:07 PM ^

I guess we agree... this time

Both will see an increase in minutes and usage, so how both scale up is really the question. 

In my mind, if they both scale up well evenly, Livers is harder to find at the NBA level, though it could be argued, still a small 4 and not a great 3.

Poole has to stack up against the true BALLERZ at the 2 and is less of a rare gem with out more improvement.



April 10th, 2018 at 9:36 AM ^

I'm sorry but if you're telling me that a 6'0'' SG going into the summer with defensive lapses and inconsistencies in decision making has the potential for being or best player and the best chance at the league, I'm concerned.
I think it is Matthews all the way. 6'6", can attack the rim, and is considered a lock down defender. He has the frame and style that fits best after a summer of Belein shooting drills. He has good form he just needs to add repetition and build some muscle memory. Once/if he starts hitting shots consistently he will be the go to for this team.
We are all very excited by what we saw (in a small sample size) from Poole in the tournament and at points in the season but you have to look at 6' in the NBA and ask if their skills are the same as poole's - Rondo, cp3, ty Lawson, Burke.
I put my money on the 6'6"athlete that gets shooting lessons this summer to make it in the league over/ before Poole.


April 9th, 2018 at 5:11 PM ^

Wait, 12-24 from pull up mid range jumpers is not "downright great" ... that's a point per possession with a low number of free throws to be drawn and what seems like a higher chance of a turnover given the couple of dribbles used to get to the spot.


April 9th, 2018 at 5:15 PM ^

Shooting 50% on midrange jumpers is great, period. There were only about 25 players in the country this year who hit that mark on any sort of volume. It's good to be able to hit bad shots—you're not going to generate great looks on 100% of your possessions.


April 9th, 2018 at 5:59 PM ^

Fair enough, but I would prefer for that volume to stay pretty small if our offensive sets are functioning as they should. I guess I'm looking at it in the framework of a full offense, and less as a measure of shooting ability. Keep in mind 12-24 is such a small sample that it could be indicative of a true 60% shooter or a true 40% shooter with a random 24 shot stretch of 50% makes.

To make it quantitative, I just quickly made this (hence it's not very pretty):

This shows the number of shots made in a million random samples of 24 shots from 10,000 shots by a 40% (blue) and 60% (black) shooter. They overlap pretty strongly at 50%, which means we shouldn't really care much about Poole's random sample of 24 shots. 10% of the time a 40% shooter would shoot 50% in a 24 shot sample, and the same is true for a 60% shooter.


April 9th, 2018 at 5:37 PM ^

His defense better improve. Beilein showed this year with everyone, if you don't play D, have a seat and watch. Dejulius is going to be a better defender than Poole from the day he shows up. Not saying it's likely, but I could see a backcourt of Simpson/Dejulius logging some minutes if Poole can't stay in front of anyone.


April 9th, 2018 at 6:31 PM ^

And I think it definitely will. Will he be Z or MAAR level? Probably not, but a lot (not all) of his mistakes on d this year came from an overdose of SWAG. He would go for the big play or steal instead of staying at home and playing lockdown D. An offseason with Yaklich and the focus of being on the starters team will go a long way to developing the discipline needed. He clearly has the athleticism to be a great defender, just needs more development.


April 9th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^


has the lateral athleticism and defensive instincts to be an impact player on that end


Umm.... don't all his mental defensive mistakes show his instincts aren't great? That's rhetorical. His defensive instincts are not good. He gambles, he bites on pump fakes, he misses rotations. He's a freshmen and much of that is to be expected. But gambling for steals doesn't mean you have defensive instincts.


April 9th, 2018 at 7:58 PM ^

I think he means he has shown he has quick feet and quick hands and has a decent steal rate. Of all the supposed flaws you mentioned, I can only agree on missed rotations or over aggressive close outs. Those are coaching points, not instinct. 


April 9th, 2018 at 7:20 PM ^

while he is here. He already is the best passer on the team. And the sky is the limit with his offense.  Improve the D and we are right back into the final four.

Go Blue. 


April 9th, 2018 at 8:24 PM ^

I think Matthews will be the focus of our offense next year (if Mo goes Pro), but Poole will be #2. 

I love the duo of Matthews and Poole; two long bodies that can attack and finish, and can hit from the outside. Not many teams have two dudes who can defend those guys 1v1. 


April 9th, 2018 at 7:55 PM ^

Stauskas got to play the just a shooter (TM) role as a frosh, something he could handle. If Stauskas had had Rahk in front of him and with the current team emphasis on defense, I think his minutes would have been very similar.

Poole is without a doubt quicker too. His first step is unrivaled by any Michigan player post Fisher. He's going to be a legend.