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Three Things to Know: Draymond Green is right, the Warriors do f****** suck right now

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Draymond Green is right, the Warriors do f****** suck right now. There is no other way to put this, no sugar-coating for this reality: Golden State Warriors have looked flat-out terrible through two games.

How bad are the Warriors?

Give up 70 points and be down by 33 at halftime bad. Had the lead zero seconds so far this season bad. Get outscored by 51 points in your first two games bad. Give up at least 35 points in seven straight quarters bad. Have the worst defense in the NBA bad. Have the worst net rating in the NBA bad. Shoot 5-of-33 from three bad.

Draymond Green put it bluntly after a 120-92 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday night:

“The reality is, we f****** suck right now. Hopefully, we’ll get better. We’ll continue to work at trying to get better, but we’re just not that good right now.”

Golden State’s issues start on defense. While Stephen Curry bombing from three and the beautiful game Golden State played on offense has drawn the spotlight, the Warriors dynasty has been built on a stifling, switching defense. That is the end of the floor where they have been the worst this season, with a net rating of 124.3 for two games (for comparison, the Cavaliers had the worst defense in the NBA last season at a net rating of 116.8). Oklahoma City essentially got whatever shot they wanted all game long.

On offense, the Warriors just can’t hit shots. They are shooting 26.7 percent from three this season, have the worst eFG percentage in the league, the third-worst true shooting percentage (48.9 percent, when the league average is a little above 55 percent), and they have a bottom 10 offensive rating.

Green is right in his postgame interview, those shooting and offensive woes start because the Warriors are not getting easy points in transition, a staple of the offense during their dynasty. Through two games, just 11.5 percent off their offense has been generated in transition, a number that was at 20.3 percent the last time they won a title. (Stat via Cleaning The Glass.)

Before the season, the Warriors were given “institutional credit” — we knew that Kevin Durant was gone, as were key role players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, and we knew Klay Thompson was injured, and we knew the roster had major changeover and the talent level was down. But these were the Warriors, five straight Finals appearances, they still had Stephen Curry and Green and they added an All-Star in D’Angelo Russell. Much like the Spurs or the past couple of decades, we just assumed they would win.

No. Not even close.

It’s just two games into the marathon 82 game NBA season, it’s too early to shovel dirt on the Warriors dynasty. They have time to turn things around this season, and next season when fully healthy the Warriors could be a serious threat again.

But right now? They f****** suck.

2) Ja Morant would like to throw his name in the hat for Rookie of the Year after dropping 30 on Nets. On a podcast before the season, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports and myself debated this question: How many games will Zion Williamson have to play to still win Rookie of the Year? That question assumed two things. First, that Zion would return around Christmas and almost immediately look like the guy who was a dominant force in the preseason.

Second, that other rookies wouldn’t just step up and take charge of the award before Zion even got on the court.

Meet Ja Morant, the No. 2 pick in the draft. He dropped 30 on the Nets Sunday night and was putting up highlights.

But Morant was not all sizzle and no steak; when the game was on the line he blocked a Kyrie Irving jumper to force overtime.

In overtime, it was Morant with the assist to Jae Crowder for the Memphis win.

Morant isn’t the only rookie putting up early numbers, RJ Barrett has impressed in New York, Tyler Herro has looked good in Miami, and the list goes on. Whenever Zion gets back on the court, he is going to have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of his class. Morant in particular.

3) Tacko Fall made his NBA debut and the crowd went wild. It happened on Saturday in the Celtics blowout win over the Knicks, but we had to bring it to you: Tacko Fall made his NBA debut.

“The lead was 11, then 13, 15 … it got up to 20 and I was like, ‘it’s time,’” Fall told NBC Sports Boston.

Fall racked up impressive per-minute numbers with four points and three rebounds in 3:38 of playing time at the end of the game.

Fall — obviously a fan favorite, the Garden went wild with his every play — is on a two-way contract and will spend most of the season with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League. As he should, this Tacko needs a lot more seasoning.

But the 7’6” big man out of Senegal and Central Florida has his first NBA bucket, and nobody is taking that away from him.

Kawhi Leonard dunks on Luka Doncic, scores 36 to spark Clippers win

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DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks brought back one big man but lost another Tuesday night, and in the end, they couldn’t rein in the reigning Finals MVP.

Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points, Landry Shamet hit two clutch 3-pointers late and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-107 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.

Leonard also had the dunk of the night going right over Luka Doncic.

Dallas ended a four-game winning streak, and more importantly, lost a key piece in center Dwight Powell just as they welcomed back Kristaps Porzingis.

Powell went down to a non-contact, right Achilles tendon injury in the first quarter, and though he will have an MRI on Wednesday, the team is fearing a worst-case scenario.

“Guys like him define the culture we want here,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “It doesn’t get much tougher than this, if it ends up being what we fear it might.”

Luka Doncic had 36 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for Dallas. He scored 24 points in the second half to help rally the Mavericks after they trailed by double digits from late in the second quarter through most of the third.

Shamet helped the Clippers seize the game late in the fourth quarter. His 3 from the left wing to give Los Angeles a 100-98 lead with 2:48 to play. Montrezl Harrell added two free throws, then Shamet sank another 3 from straight-on to put the Clippers up by seven. He finished with 18 points.

“We just kind of found a way to win,” Shamet said. “We’d loved to keep that lead the whole game, but that’s not how it’s going to be. It’s a long season. We got to find different ways how to win like we did tonight.”

Leonard added 11 in the fourth quarter, including his only 3 of the game with 1:15 left, which put the Clippers up 108-100.

But Dallas rallied, as Doncic hit a 3 and Maxi Kleber a dunk. After a Clippers turnover, Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s potential tying 3 spun around and out. JaMychal Green missed two free throws for LA, but then Doncic missed two – the second intentionally – and Leonard sealed it with two free throws.

 

Pelicans reportedly “really pulled back in trade talks” to focus on playoff push

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Three-and-a-half games.

Despite an injury-riddled 17-27 first half of the season, the New Orleans Pelicans are just three-and-a-half games out of the playoffs in a surprisingly soft bottom of the Western Conference.

Combine that with the team going 11-5 in their last 16 games, plus getting Zion Williamson in the lineup starting Wednesday, and the Pelicans have gone from sellers at the trade deadline to a team standing pat and planning to make a playoff push, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Around the G-League showcase just before Christmas (when league executives gathered in Las Vegas) there was a lot of buzz about the Pelicans trading point guard Jrue Holiday or big man Derrick Favors to help with their rebuild around Williamson. However, the recent hot streak and the emergence of Brandon Ingram as an All-Star level player has the Pelicans reconsidering their plans.

Memphis sits in the eighth seed in the West and has played well of late (8-2 in its last 10) behind the emergence of Ja Morant. However, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoneix, and Sacramento have all shown flashes in recent weeks and could make a run at the final playoff spot in the conference (or higher if some team fades from the pack). Every one of those teams is trying to decide whether to make trades for young players/picks at the deadline or make a playoff push (Portland is the one team that could do both because they will get Jusuf Nurkick, Zach Collins, and CJ McCollum back from injury).

David Griffin, the man with the hammer inside the Pelicans organization, has until the Feb. 6 trade deadline to decide whether to go for the playoffs or make trades looking for guys on Zion’s timeline. How the team looks in the next couple of weeks with Williamson back will play a big factor in that call.

Dallas’ Dwight Powell leaves game with Achilles injury and it looks bad (VIDEO)

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This looks bad.

Hopefully it’s not what it looked like, but Dallas’ big man and critical role player Dwight Powell went down in the first half against the Clippers with a non-contact leg injury and will not return to the game with what the team is calling a right Achilles injury.

Here is a video of Powell going down as he plants to drive the lane; if you are at all squeamish this would be one to skip.

That looks a lot like a torn Achilles. Medical tests likely will confirm that tomorrow.

Powell is starting at center for the Mavericks, giving them 9.6 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, more importantly bringing toughness and doing the dirty work needed inside to allow Kristaps Porzingis to play his pick-and-pop game on the outside. Powell has become an important part of what is working in Dallas.

If this is a torn Achilles Powell is done for the season. This will ultimately mean more run for Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic, plus it could send Dallas out into the market looking for another big man before the trade deadline.

Friends, family, former teammates of Delonte West trying to him find his way

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The conversation among Delonte West’s friends, family, and former teammates will sound familiar to people who have sat in living rooms or around dinner tables around the nation trying to find ways to help a friend or family member battling mental illness.

They offer help in a variety of ways — money, housing, a path to medical assistance through doctors — but can be frustrated at every turn as those steps fail to help.

West has been out of the league for seven seasons, but his challenges with bipolar disorder — something he announced he had during his playing days — have not ended. Last weekend, a disturbing video of West being attacked and beaten on a Washington D.C. street surfaced. It was followed by a second video showing West handcuffed and talking to the police, where West used graphic and disturbing language to accuse another man of pulling a gun on him. Legally, nothing came of the incident.

However, it showed how much West continues to struggle. A lot of people from the NBA family have tried to help West, but have been frustrated by the results, something Shams Charania wrote about at The Athletic.

Professional basketball allowed West to have structure in his life, to have a level of stability. According to those close to him, that has gone by the wayside since he exited the NBA…

Former teammate Jameer Nelson is one of many people who have witnessed West’s post-career distress and offered help. The National Basketball Players Association has maintained close contact with West and made itself available as a resource. His college coach at Saint Joseph, Phil Martelli, and West’s former player agent, Noah Croom, have been in communication with each other — and West — about providing him support. The same can be said for the Celtics and Mavericks. Both Boston GM Danny Ainge and Dallas owner Mark Cuban have been in direct contact at various points, according to those close to West.  They all want him to find his place in life, and they want to be a helping hand when needed.

The NBPA helped facilitate his residence change from Dallas to Maryland in recent years and extensively supported him financially, as recently as this month, according to sources. Ainge and the Celtics have given him a scouting job to scout games in the D.C. and East Coast area, sources said, but West has had mixed results due to fluctuating attendance. His close friends and family have all stepped in whenever they could.

As has happened with so many families around the nation, all that support and love has not been enough, it has not had the desired impact.

Nelson, West’s former St. Joseph’s teammate, posted this on Twitter over the weekend:

Delonte West announced he had bipolar disorder back in 2008, during his eight-season NBA career — a career that was cut short in part by a series of actions and lack of reliability (from teams’ perspectives) likely tied to his condition.

There is no shortage of love and concern for West, and there are a lot of people who want to help. How to help, and if he will accept that help, are very different questions. Ones a lot of people can relate to.