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Austin Reaves vs Jordan Poole: Which player has a bigger impact?

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The talent in the NBA is at a high right now. It’s very difficult to crack a spot in a team roster, let alone play a vital role for a championship contender. For young aspiring players, they aim to get selected higher in the NBA Draft, as this means higher chances for playing time. Two young guards have broken through on elite teams — leading to the Austin Reaves vs Jordan Poole discussion.

So for rookies who were picked later in the draft, they have to really earn their stripes to get a consistent spot in an NBA team’s rotation. This is the same case for undrafted players, as there’s this huge probability that they will first play in the G League before getting called up.

Austin Reaves vs Jordan Poole

Jordan Poole and Austin Reaves — two of the up-and-coming shooting guards in the league today — have climbed their way from the bottom of the ladder to prominent roles with their respective teams. The Reaves vs Poole debate has been going on in the regular season, and it continues to heat up.

Let’s make a case for each player’s skill set, and how valuable their play styles are in today’s game. Who wins the Austin Reaves vs Jordan Poole debate?

Another microwave scorer for the Warriors

When talking about microwave scorers, the names of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson surely come to mind. The Splash Brothers are the epitome of the “heat check”, which refers to players who are more likely to get into a shooting momentum once they see two or three shots going in.


With both Curry and Thompson getting on with age, the Warriors needed to develop another young gun to potentially take the mantle. It came in the form of Jordan Poole, who they selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

For a player like Poole, who was drafted in the latter stages of the first round, not a lot of eyes were on him. In fact, he had a brief stint with the Warriors’ G League affiliate team. So it was quite a surprise (but not within the Warriors organization) that Poole rose to prominence during the team’s successful title run in the 2021-22 season.

After averaging just 20.9 minutes in his first two seasons with the Warriors, Poole’s playing time jumped to an average of 30 minutes last season. His production inevitably improved, as characterized by a stat line of 18.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists, while leading the league in free throw percentage (92.5% on 3.5 attempts).

Poole’s razzle-dazzle style of play was reminiscent of Curry’s oozing confidence. He was a microwave scorer in his own right, but it also presented some challenges. There are games when he’ll attempt one bad shot after the other, and his work on defense had more questions than answers.

Lakers discover an all-round gem

Austin Reaves has a chance to become one of the best undrafted NBA players in history. He’s not as flashy of a scorer as Poole, but his all-around skill set has certainly helped the Lakers this season. After showing glimpses of his talent during his rookie year, Reaves has become a bona fide starter for the Lakers.


Reaves has always been an overlooked prospect since high school. He also had four collegiate playing years, so he was already 22 years of age when he applied for the NBA Draft. Some teams shy away from selecting rookies in that age bracket, which is probably one of the reasons why Reaves went undrafted.

However, it turns out that the 6-foot-5 shooting guard is more capable than the scouts deemed him to be. One of his best assets is his decision-making, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He just knows what to do when he has the ball in his hands. Reaves doesn’t turn the ball over that much, and he has sound offensive fundamentals.

Moreover, Reaves can turn it up a notch when he needs to. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell on the Lakers roster, it doesn’t leave much room for Reaves to get a high volume of shots. But he could take over a game when needed, as evidenced by the fact that he put up more than ten 20-point games in the regular season.

There’s also the fact that he has good feet as a defender. He’s not the best defensive stopper in the league, but the Lakers trust him to exert maximum effort on that end. He’s good at drawing charges, and he’s more than average in terms of point-of-attack defense.

Obviously, Reaves has more things to work on, but he’s only in his second year in the professional ranks. He’ll be okay.

Reaves is the safer choice…for now

Basketball today is a game of chess on defense. This is specifically true in the playoffs when players need to have a well-balanced skill set on both ends of the floor. We’ve seen good offensive players become unplayable because they’re such liabilities on defense.

This could be a deciding factor in the Austin Reaves vs Jordan Poole debate. Along with his questionable shot selection, Poole is surely the less-abled defender when compared to Reaves. Of course, we’ve seen defensive liabilities turn into above-average defenders. If Poole can show us that growth in his game, we’ll go back to this article and re-evaluate.

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