DeMarcus Cousins needs ex-Warriors teammates' support after torn ACL

DeMarcus Cousins needs ex-Warriors teammates' support after torn ACL

You had to see and study their faces. One after another, the eyes and chins of the Warriors conveyed deep sadness and profound concern, not for themselves but for their fallen teammate.

When DeMarcus Cousins was helped off the court in Game 2 of the first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers in April, the fear running through his teammates was palpable. They were worried about Boogie’s reaction to another physical setback.

There is no doubt widespread dread contributed to the Warriors coughing away a 31-point lead, at home, allowing the Clippers to race to a victory that evened the series before it shifted to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.

The Warriors, after all, had just watched their teammate lose a dream he had visualized ever since entering the NBA nearly a decade earlier. In the postseason for the first time, Cousins lasted 25 minutes.

That dream, reproduced when he signed with the Lakers last month, was shattered yet again on Thursday, when Cousins reportedly sustained a knee injury during a workout. According to multiple reports, he is expected to be diagnosed with a torn ACL.

Even when it seems Boogie had caught a professional break in signing with a championship contender for the second consecutive summer, he is punished by the invisible enemy that is rotten luck.

The Warriors were genuinely worried that Cousins might dip into at least a slight depression. He had spent nearly a year wrestling with the demanding rehabilitation required to recover from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and made it back onto the court, only to tear a quad muscle less than three months later.

“I’m seriously worried about him,” one veteran teammate said of Cousins after Game 2 against the Clippers. “When something means so much to somebody and it’s taken away like that (snaps fingers), the mind can go to some dark places.

“I know he was counting on this. This is why he came here. We saw how hard he worked, and it paid off. He was finally in the playoffs. And now he’s gone. I only hope it’s not as bad as it looked.”

It wasn’t. Though it was thought Cousins could miss two months -- putting him out of the playoffs no matter how far the Warriors went -- he was back on the court in six weeks, in time to return for the NBA Finals against the Raptors.

When Boogie played eight low-impact minutes in Game 1, concern remained. Could he reach the level of conditioning necessary to compete at the highest level, at this most critical time?

So he delivered a highly encouraging Game 2, contributing 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists over 28 minutes, helping the Warriors tie the series. The air in the locker room was cooler and lighter. Cousins allowed himself to smile.

And now this. The Warriors are sick. The Lakers are sicker. The people that care for Cousins are distraught. Boogie has to be the most despondent of all.

These three injuries, all to his lower body, all during the last 20 months, have cost him tens of millions of dollars. They have kept him away from his professional purpose for long stretches, resulting in the most trying times of his career -- far worse than he thought he had it during the nearly seven seasons he spent with the woeful and dysfunctional Sacramento Kings.

Cousins, who turned 29 on Tuesday, now has to fight off the despair sure to stalk him. He has to listen to the beat of his heart appreciate his family and realize that this is temporary and that he will have basketball for as long as he walks this earth.

[RELATED: Why these five low-key NBA records never will be broken]

He’ll need constant support from friends and teammates and former teammates, as the pervasive fear of April plummeted to the outright angst of August.

No matter how you feel about the basketball player, and Boogie has his adversaries, wish the man well.

Why Draymond Green believes Eric Paschall doesn't know NBA game yet

Why Draymond Green believes Eric Paschall doesn't know NBA game yet

Besides all of the injuries, Eric Paschall has been the story of the Warriors' season so far.

The rookie is averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 52 percent overall.

The No. 41 overall pick racked up 30 points and seven rebounds Sunday night in New Orleans, on a very efficient 10-for-17 from the field.

Not bad for a guy who doesn't have a clue what he's doing when he takes the floor (sarcasm font).

"Sometimes he can get a little lost out there, not knowing where to go," Draymond Green told reporters after Golden State's 108-100 loss. "Just trying to help him find his spacing.

"Right now, he’s just scoring off raw talent. He really don’t know how to play the NBA game. As he figures out more and more the NBA game, how to get fouled, he’ll get better and better.”

Paschall certainly got fouled against the Pelicans, as he shot a career-high 10 free throws (he made eight to put him at just over 84 percent on the year).

The three-time All-Star clearly is trying to motivate the 23-year-old and wants him to stay hungry.

Draymond assisted Paschall on three buckets Sunday, and you better believe that he is going to do everything he can to help the rookie continue to grow:

Furthermore, you got to love this aggression:

Paschall probably doesn't have much of a chance to win Rookie of the Year, but at this rate he absolutely will make one of the two All-Rookie teams (quite possibly First Team).

[RELATEDHow Draymond is leading Dubs through ‘frustrating’ season]

The opportunities will keep coming.

“Where we are right now, without D’Lo (D'Angelo Russell), we have to continue to find ways to get Eric the ball in different situations,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Because he’s our best scorer.”

We all saw that coming before the season started, right?

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Warriors rookie Jordan Poole’s struggles have reached crisis point

Warriors rookie Jordan Poole’s struggles have reached crisis point

What happened to Jordan Poole on Sunday in New Orleans was some of the cruelest fate basketball gods could have laid on a 20-year-old drafted in the first round mostly because of their ability to shoot.

The rookie missed every shot he took. All seven attempts from the field and, in a moment of peak torture, his only free throw.

The first 14 games of Poole’s NBA journey ended with one in which he failed to score a single point in 23 minutes of activity.

Had he made any three or four of those shots, the Warriors likely would have experienced their third victory of the season. Instead, they ended up 108-100 losers to the Pelicans, who for a variety of reasons were about as vulnerable as any team can be.

That loss, like the other 11, can’t be blamed on a single player. The Warriors’ defense was brutalized, with New Orleans scoring exactly half of its total on 3-point shots, many of which came with several feet of open space. The Warriors’ offense was uneven and rhythmless, sometimes too slow and other times too hurried but generally too inefficient.

It’s the offense, though, that Poole was drafted to enhance. As a freshman at the University of Michigan, he earned the nickname “The Microwave,” for his ability heat up quickly and get three or four buckets in a couple minutes. Though some coaches and scouts around the league thought the Warriors may have reached in taking Poole in the first round, No. 28 overall, it was virtually unanimous that he’ll be able to score in the NBA.

Which has a question in that dark cloud over the collective head of the Warriors and their fans: “When?” When will Jordan Poole show everyone that he can blow up a scoreboard?

Poole’s field-goal percentage sits at 27.3 percent, dropping to 26.3 when firing from deep. Worse, it appears to be affecting his confidence.

He is one of three Warriors, along with free-agent signee Glenn Robinson III and undrafted rookie Ky Bowman, to play in all 14 games. Only once has Poole shot better than 50 percent from the field, and only one other time did he do better than 40 percent. Before the 0-of-7 in New Orleans, he was 1-of-8 in a loss to the Celtics and 4-of-15 in a loss to the Lakers.

The Warriors are being patient because their roster is so deeply compromised that they don’t have a choice. Though they have seven players capable of filling minutes at shooting guard, Poole is the only one pure shooter that currently has full use of his hands, arms and legs.

“There is no somebody else right now,” coach Steve Kerr said the other day. “That’s the issue. We’re throwing guys into the fire.”

Poole has started nine games and come off the bench in the other five. As a reserve, he is 6-of-45 (13.3 percent) from the field and 4-of-25 (16 percent) from deep. As a starter, he is 32-of-101 (31.7 percent) and 16-of-54 (29.6).

Which brings us back to the free throw Poole missed with 4:12 left in the first quarter on Sunday. The Pelicans were whistled for a technical foul, and he was selected to shoot the free throw. It was a wise choice insofar as he was 25-of-26 from the line. That was his safe place, the one area of his shooting that he had not deserted him.

It deserted him.

Though It is much too soon to conclude Poole won’t be an effective scorer in the league, it is not unreasonable to wonder if his confidence has dropped from where it was even a few weeks ago. He is more tentative with the ball, sometimes looking to pass when he has enough space to let it fly.

That’s what the Warriors need from him. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, D’Angelo Russell and Damion Lee sidelined – and none expected back before December – Poole is their best available pure shooter. Others can score, and second-round pick Eric Paschall is doing so at surprisingly productive rate. But scoring is supposed to be Poole’s specialty.

“He’s going to make shots,” Kerr said the other day. “He’s a great shooter. He’s got to just get comfortable in the league. He’s doing better. Jordan is getting better, working hard at both ends and putting all the work in. He’s a great kid and we’re lucky to have him.”

Poole’s shot is not only missing but doing so in true brick fashion, off to either side. He is perceptive enough to know how badly the Warriors need points, and he likely is pressing. The one thing he’s always had on the court is not there.

[RELATED: Poole not worried about shooting slump]

When Poole goes scoreless on seven shots and misses his free throw, it’s not just a bad game. It’s the nadir of a pattern that is defining the start to his career. His struggle has reached, in the realm of competition, the point of crisis.

No matter how he does over the rest of this season, or the rest of his career, Poole will never forget the strife of his first month and the emptiness that followed his worst game. It will give him something he’ll be eager to bury once and for all.