Warriors’ Jordan Poole surprisingly not Most Improved Player finalist

Less than 24 hours after Jordan Poole showed the NBA world just how good he was, he was snubbed for an award many thought he should win.

The NBA announced the finalists for its six major awards on Sunday and Poole is not among those up for the Most Improved Player trophy.

Instead, three other young guards – Darius Garland, Ja Morant and Dejounte Murray – were named finalists for the award.

Inserted into the starting line-up to begin the 2021-22 season as Klay Thompson returned from a 31-month absence, Poole has become an invaluable member of the rotation.

After averaging 12.0 points in 51 games last season, Poole pushed that average to 18.5 this season, filling the void until Thompson returned on Jan. 9. When Steph Curry sprained his left foot on March 16, Poole returned to the starting lineup and stepped up in an even bigger way.

From March 16 through the Warriors’ season finale on April 10, Poole averaged 26.0 points in 13 games. He shot 42.7% from the field and 38.2% from beyond the 3-point line during that span.

In his first NBA playoff game, Poole scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Warriors past the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their first-round series on Saturday night. Even with Thompson playing well and Curry back in the lineup after a month out, the 22-year-old guard stole the show.

Poole’s performance against the Nuggets was so good that the Warriors are likely going to have to make a very tough decision to bring him back to second unit when Curry is ready to return to the starting lineup.

Poole had numerous endorsements for the Most Improved Player award, some inside the Warriors building and some outside.

“The award is called ‘most improved,’ not whoever had the best year, it’s actually the MVP award,” Draymond Green told reporters in early April. “A lot of times we get confused… No disrespect to Ja Morant, but Ja Morant is an MVP candidate. Ja Morant is not a ‘Most Improved Player’ candidate. Ja Morant was f-king amazing last year.

“When you look around, the biggest improvement was Jordan Poole, and that goes without saying. You go through the list and you show me what these guys did last year and the year before that, and you show me what Jordan did last year and the year before he improved the most If we go by the title of the price, the name of the price, then it’s easily Jordan.

For what it’s worth, Morant doesn’t think he should be a runner-up for most improved player, though he did vouch for Memphis Grizzlies teammate Desmond Bane instead.

Former Kings goaltender Tyrese Haliburton tweeted that he wasn’t sure who should win Defensive Player of the Year or Rookie of the Year, but Poole had his vote for the most improved player.

Despite the snub, there could be an upside to Poole not being an MIP finalist.

RELATED: Poole One of NBA’s Best Young Players, Says Bjelica

Curry, Thompson, and Green all used people who despise them as motivation to improve themselves and prove everyone wrong.

Poole’s confidence and work ethic are well known. Now he has something else that can motivate him to improve. If he uses it the right way, at the rate he improves, he could be in the conversation for MVP right now for the next few years.

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