Warriors’ Jordan Poole stunningly not Most Improved Player finalist

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

The NBA announced the finalists for its six major awards Sunday and Poole isn’t among those in consideration 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 lineup to begin the 2021-22 season while Klay Thompson worked his way back from a 31-month absence, Poole developed into 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 sustained a sprained left foot on March 16, Poole re-entered 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 percent from the field and 38.2 percent 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 Saturday night. Even with Thompson playing well and Curry back in the lineup after a month-long absence, the 22-year-old guard stole the show.

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

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

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

“When you look around, the most improvement has been Jordan Poole, and that goes without saying. You go across the list, and you show me what those guys did last year and the year before that, and you show me what Jordan did last year and the year before that, he is the most improved. If we’re going by what the title of the award is, what the name of the award is, then it’s easily Jordan.”

For what it’s worth, Morant doesn’t believe he should be a Most Improved Player finalist, though he vouched for Memphis Grizzlies teammate Desmond Bane instead.

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

Despite the snub, there could be a benefit to Poole not being a MIP finalist.

RELATED: Poole one of best young players in NBA, Bjelica says

Curry, Thompson and Green all have used people slighting them as motivation to get better and prove everyone wrong.

Poole’s confidence and work ethics are well-known. Now he has something else that can motivate him to get better. If he uses this in the right way, at the rate he is improving, he could be in the conversation for MVP at this time over the next few years.

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