Jordan Poole sees the criticism. He says he’s not worried about it.

The little national attention the rebuilding Washington Wizards are currently receiving tends to focus on Jordan Poole and his antics.

First, internet detectives got into the act during the pre-season at fourth-year forward Deni Avdija, showing some frustration to Poole’s reluctance to pass the ball during a game at Madison Square Garden and saw it as the beginning of a potential altercation that could destroy the locker room.

Then there were crazy shots – a three-pointer that, oops, he missed; a far too casual three-pointer while the Wizards trailed the Boston Celtics by 15, i.e easily blocked by Kristaps Porzingis; not serious break the glass Kyle Kuzma, while the Wizards trailed the Atlanta Hawks by 21 points. All this earned the 24-year-old defender the first place in TNT’s “Inside the NBA” segment.Shaqtin’ fool” while Wizards basically got by unnoticed. Their record dropped to 2-9 after a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena.

So far, only one film has felt like it could potentially have some weight. In the clip After Sunday’s road loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Poole spends a timeout seemingly paying attention to everything but coach Wes Unseld Jr. preparing the game. He appears to be talking to another player, throwing in the towel, looking away so that a teammate has to tap him on the shoulder to avert his gaze. This movie is different from the ones where Poole takes silly photos; it sounds like a comment about a player who is supposed to set the culture in the team and try to develop good habits.

From October: Jordan Poole now takes over

Poole and Unseld dismissed the video as little more than a result of Poole’s new, elevated status as an NBA lineup leader.

“I haven’t seen the video personally,” Unseld said when asked before Wednesday’s game if he had talked to Poole about paying attention during timeouts. “I’m not going to believe it – I think there are a thousand moments during the game, and there are moments when coaches are talking to players and players are talking to players. It happens. I think he’s probably under the microscope at the moment. People are looking for things. So I don’t know the exact sequence of events, but it’s not a big deal until it becomes a big deal.

Poole said: “Yes, I saw it. And I was wondering, how could someone comment like that from the middle of the stands? Of course there’s nothing I can do about it. Sometimes I sit down, sometimes I don’t. The coaches go, meet beforehand, think about what they want to do. That’s also an awful lot of time. This is also a two-minute time-out. The coach probably only talks for about 35 seconds. But I saw the play, went back, asked a question just to make sure. Just continue to speak up and communicate with your teammates. Honestly, it’s a very normal break. There was nothing special about it and I’m sure there will be many more timeouts as the season goes on. Just me personally, I’m not even really worried about it.”

Unseld is right that Poole is under a harsh spotlight this season. He has always been a polarizing player and has been the subject of internet jokes throughout his career, starting with one famous video suggesting he was just trying to play well when there are pretty women in the crowd down “sad Jordan Poole” meme that emerged following his first, rather grim-looking, headshot in a Wizards uniform after being traded from Golden State this summer. Poole is a funny, incredibly expressive, top-notch talker, and member of Generation Z. He will be a frequent topic on NBA social media.

But this season was supposed to be a fresh start after Poole spent a year avoiding talking about being punched by Warriors teammate Draymond Green last season. Instead, Poole has consistently attracted attention for reasons that have nothing to do with winning basketball games or proving that he is the team’s best player.

“It’s 2023, so there’s social media. There’s not much we can do about it. Just go out there, play our game and be who we are,” Poole said Wednesday. – You can’t get caught up in this kind of thing, right? There will always be something. Someone will find something to come up with. Narratives can be misinterpreted. As long as the people who know you, the people who are close to you, the people you spend time with know who you are as a person – coaches, players basically – that’s all that matters.”

Poole’s numbers aren’t outlandish, despite his penchant for questionable shots.

He’s shooting 40.6% from the field, which is down from a career-high 44.8% in 2021-22, but it’s not terrible. He’s averaging 16.2 points per game and shooting 30.1 percent from three-point range. He is the second-best scorer (Kuzma averages 23.9 points per game) on a Wizards team that needs more consistency from him. Unseld said he wants the defender to play downfield more often and increase his efficiency, but the coach also admits Poole is still adapting to his new team.

Other attributes that may not be captured on video? His coaches and teammates say he is a tenacious worker, and rookie Bilal Coulibaly considers him a key mentor who consistently encourages him to speak up and ask questions. As for his alleged altercation with Poole in pre-season, Avdija said in an interview last month that things are “good” between them and the striker simply needs to better control his emotions on the pitch.

As for the cause of the initial confusion – Poole’s wild shots – he doesn’t mind.

“I feel confident, I’m choosing my shots well,” he said. “I’m still figuring out a lot of rotations, chemistry, what game you want to get involved in and how to get into our flow. These are just a few of the schematic things we try to figure out with the guys on the court. As for the shots, they’re okay. They will fall. It’s a long season.”


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