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Jordan Poole Charts A New Frontier In Unseriousness

Jordan Poole #13 of the Washington Wizards drives to the basket against Immanuel Quickley #5 of the New York Knicks in the second half during an NBA In-Season Tournament game at Capital One Arena on November 17, 2023 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

I've gotten really into this D.C.-based basketball comedy troupe called the Washington Wizards. They subvert traditional notions of basketball—that it's collaborative, that the goal is to win 48-minute units of competition rather than craft hilarious bits, that such a thing as a bad shot exists—with their whimsical, deeply stupid play, and as long as you are not cursed with the hereditary stain of Wizards fandom, there's a lot for you to enjoy. Nobody in this troupe provides more entertainment than Jordan Poole.

The Wizards have lost six in a row, the most recent three by a combined 47 points. Those are the results the team wants, though, as they are looking to tank for a better draft pick. So again, we must consider the process and view it primarily through the framework of: Was it funny? Poole actually had his best game of the season last night, with 30 points on decent shooting, and, miraculously, zero turnovers. He still delivered the laughs, walking the dog and burning clock for no reason down 10 late in the fourth quarter. That he actually scored on this possession makes it that much goofier.

Poole's play this season has been a joy, as he is zealously using his newfound freedom to dribble into any shot he wants and clank them all, no matter how much time is on the shot clock. Unbound from the Warriors, or the pressures of winning, Poole is free to try the most audacious stuff he can think of. His season stats are markedly worse than last year's, as he's shooting 39.6 percent from the field and only 28.4 percent from three, with a career-high turnover percentage and a single-digit PER. But anyone deputized to lead a horrible team can accrue numbers at horrid efficiency; the trick with Poole is the zest of his lowlight reel. Against the Knicks last Friday, Poole had eight points on 2-for-11 shooting while turning it over five times. He missed every single shot he took that wasn't directly under the rim and threw up two airballs in the first quarter.

A good amount of his turnovers are of this variety.

Lovely. Hopefully the Wizards have realized by now that the best way to tank is just to continue letting Jordan Poole do whatever he wants. The fans deserve to chuckle.

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