When the NBA announced it would be ending its partnership with Spalding last year, it took many by surprise. The league's basketball partner since 1983, Spalding made custom-made basketballs for the NBA for nearly 40 years. Starting this season, the Wilson ball became the NBA's official ball. Early returns may not be so great, and LA Clippers star Paul George knows why Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and others around the league have struggled shooting.

Through the first two weeks of the NBA season, three-point shooting is down significantly. Through 102 NBA games this season, the league average mark of 34.2 percent would be the worst since the 1998-99 season if it stood over the 82-game season, when the league average was a 33.9 percent shooting clip.

However, if you go back and look at the first 102 games of each season over the last decade, this season’s 34.2 percent mark would still rank higher than the first 102 games of the 2011-12, 2015-16, and 2016-17 NBA seasons.

In each of those seasons, three-point shooting finished at 34.9 percent or better.

Oklahoma City Thunder coach Mark Daigneault dove into a couple reasons the league could be in a shooting funk, from the back-to-back shortened offseasons to the way the NBA has altered officiating non-basketball moves in an attempt to draw fouls. Clippers forward Paul George was also asked about the shooting dip, but specifically if he thought the new Wilson basketball had an impact on it.

“Not to make an excuse or anything about the ball, but I said that,” Paul George explained. “It's a different basketball. It don't have the same touch or softness that the Spalding ball had.”

George explained his issues about the ball, even though they haven't really affected him. Through six games, George is averaging 28.3 points and 8.0 rebounds 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 41.1 percent from three.

Through seven games, Damian Lillard is averaging a career-how 18.6 points per game on 34.9 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent from three. Bradley Beal is averaging 24.3 points, but is shooting just 22.9 percent from three. Michael Porter Jr. who shot it at 42.2 percent and 44.5 percent from three in his first two seasons, respectively, has plummeted to 23.3 percent this season.

“You'll see this year,” George added. “It's gonna be a lot of bad misses. You'll see a lot of bad misses. I think you've seen a lot of airballs so far this season, so, again, not to put any excuse or blame the basketball, but it is different, it's no secret, it's a different basketball.”

A few weeks ago, Paul George's Clippers teammate Nicolas Batum was also asked about playing with the new ball. He said there were slight changes, but nothing that would cause him to be distracted.

“It was an adjustment for sure during the summer,” Batum said. “But playing FIBA, you play with a different basketball. I am used to playing with different basketballs all year long so it is pretty easy to adjust.”

Luka Doncic (23.8 percent), Collin Sexton (24.2 percent), Khris Middleton (25.7 percent), Kyle Lowry (26.9 percent), Trae Young (27 percent), Jayson Tatum (27.1 percent), Devin Booker (28.6 percent), and Bojan Bogdanovic (30.3 percent) are all among players also finding it increasingly difficult to shoot the ball this season.

Ironically though, Lillard's struggles also come just a few months after he partnered with Spalding to promote their TF-1000 basketball.

Players Association President CJ McCollum made it very clear he wasn't blaming the new basketball for some of his personal shooting struggles, but also said he'd be getting feedback on the new ball from some players around the league. It'll be interesting to see what players around the league think of the new ball through the first two weeks of the season.

Meanwhile, the Clippers fly to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves in two-game, three-day set on both Wednesday and Friday night.