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Jordan Poole surpassed Stephen Curry as the best player on the Golden State Warriors in their playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies and neither of them has been the best player on the floor, former NBA star Antoine Walker said on Thursday.
Walker appeared on FOX Sports’ “First Things First” to break down the best players in the Western Conference semifinals. He said it was clear that Curry was the third-best player in the series behind Poole and Morant.
“I think Steph is the third-best player in this series. I think it goes Ja Morant, Jordan Poole and then Steph Curry. Jordan Poole is the best player on the Warriors right now. I hope you guys understand that and I think he’s proven that,” he said.
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is defended by Golden State Warriors’ Jordan Poole during the playoff series Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Memphis, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
“From the first round of the playoffs with the Denver Nuggets and even the first two games on the road, Jordan Poole is the best player on the Golden State Warriors right now. That’s why Steve Kerr had a tough time taking him out of the lineup. But Ja Morant is the best player in the series.”
Both Curry and Poole started Games 1 and 2 in the series. The Warriors won Game 1 and the Grizzlies took Game 2. Curry was -9 in Game 1 with 24 points and -11 in Game 2 with 27 points. Poole was +10 in Game 1 with 31 points and was +2 in Game 2 with 20 points.
Both players have been important to the Warriors’ success this season and there’s still a lot of game left in the playoff series.
Walker stressed, however, Morant is the best player in the series.
Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole shoots against Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton during the playoff series Sunday, May 1, 2022, in Memphis, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
“Ja Morant is the best player in the series but I don’t think Ja Morant is the smartest player in the series,” former Boston Celtics star said. “And what I mean by that is, is he gonna make sure that he can keep his imprint and his foot on their neck all the time like he did the last 5 or 6 minutes of that game in scoring 15 straight points? I don’t like Ja Morant shooting 23 threes in two games. I don’t think that’s his strength. Does he have to shoot a couple? Of course because they do sag on him and you do want to make them respect you and open up your driving lanes a little bit. I worry he can fall in love with it a little too much, that he gets fatigued. We know how much energy he plays with and I just want to make sure he plays smart.
“One thing Steph is gonna do is he’s gonna play smart. He’s gonna use picks, he’s gonna use Draymond Green. He’s gonna come off pick and rolls. He’s gonna use his teammates a lot more than Ja Morant will probably use his teammates so that’s where I’m talking about being smart because this guy has the ability to put pressure on you every play – whether it’s to score or pass.”
Morant has become the face of the Grizzlies over the last few years. He was -1 in Game 1 with 34 points and 10 assists, nearly getting a triple-double. In Game 3, he had 47 points and was +13.
Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole is congratulated by guard Stephen Curry after scoring against the Denver Nuggets in San Francisco, April 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Game 3 between the two teams is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday in San Francisco.