Warriors’ longshot DeMarcus Nelson narrowing the odds
By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND — Don Nelson has already gone on record as saying that he wants to keep three point guards on his 15-man roster this season, and that’s not including the injured Monta Ellis.
Now he’s even claiming he might keep all four point guards that the Warriors have in camp.
The coach put forth that possibility Thursday after being asked if there wasn’t a one-on-one battle brewing between undrafted rookie DeMarcus Nelson, the prep scoring machine from Vallejo who has turned into a defensive specialist, and veteran newcomer Dan Dickau, who played briefly for Nelson in Dallas during 2004.
“I wouldn’t say it is an either-or (situation),” Don Nelson said. “I think we can do whatever’s best for our team.”
So you can see a situation in which keeping both of them would be best for your team?
While that notion seems a little extreme, there’s no denying that DeMarcus Nelson has made what seemed like an afterthought into a legitimately difficult decision. To underscore his rising stock, Don Nelson had DeMarcus scrimmage Thursday with the first-string “blue” team, alternating much of the time with C.J. Watson.
“He’s gone from a guy that I didn’t think would have a chance to make our team when I brought him in this summer – I thought he’d need a year in the D-League – and he’s the coach’s favorite player right now. That must mean something.”
Although the coach considers DeMarcus Nelson’s shooting form to be inherently flawed, the Duke product can do something none of Ellis’ other would-be replacements can easily replicate: Beat his man off the dribble.
“He can get into the lane better than anybody that I have,” Don Nelson said. “And he’s now learning how to find people. He was pretty single-minded to score. That’s the first impulse everybody has when you get in there. But he’s now trying to open his vision up, see people, and he’s making good plays. His shot isn’t great, but he’s doing other things. He’s not living on that.”
With swingman Dion Dowell and center Justin Williams being placed on waivers Thursday by the Warriors, the team has 17 players in camp and must shed two more before Opening Night.
That would seem to leave two big guys — second-round selection Richard Hendrix, who has a guaranteed contract worth $442,114 and undrafted rookie Rob Kurz — fighting over one roster berth, while DeMarcus Nelson and Dickau battle with summer league standout Anthony Morrow for two other spots.
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Center Andris Biedrins shot 64.3 percent from the line for the Latvian national team this summer in qualifying play for the 2009 European championships, continuing on the improvement he made last season with the Warriors, when he set a career-high at 62.0 percent.
But there’s a noticeable difference in Biedrins’ form, courtesy of Latvian coach Nenad Trajkovic. Trajkovic reset Biedrins’ stance at the line, putting his right foot significantly behind his left — the toe of his right shoe now lines up with back of his left. As part of the shooting motion, Biedrins brings the right foot forward in a sort of bunny hop.
“He said, if you do this, and just make the free throw with a little hop, it’ll help the ball get up high enough,” Biedrins said. “So I was shooting that all summer and it kind of worked out. We’ll see how it goes, but now I feel pretty comfortable.”
Sidney Moncrief, the Warriors assistant coach in charge of all things shooting, admitted that he did a double-take upon first seeing Biedrins’ new style, but he took a pragmatic view: “If it’s working, keep doing it.”
Members of the Warriors have met with representatives for Ellis to discuss potential disciplinary action stemming from Ellis’ ankle injury, which was reportedly caused by a moped accident. If that’s true, it would be in contravention of the six-year, $66 million contract he signed this summer, putting the entire deal in jeopardy, if the team wants to go that far in exacting retribution. A team spokesman said the Warriors would release details of their decision before leaving after Saturday’s game for China. . . . Kelenna Azubuike sat out practice with a sore right hip, courtesy of former teammate Ike Diogu, now a Trail Blazer, falling on him late in Wednesday’s game. Azubuike’s status for the Warriors’ exhibition game against visiting Oklahoma City on Saturday is unknown.
35 Responses to “Warriors’ longshot DeMarcus Nelson narrowing the odds”
Warrior Matt October 10th, 2008 at 7:35 am
Thanks for your insights on the Warriors! How many players can the warriors rotate into the D League? Theoretically could they keep both Morrow and Nelson?
Big Cole October 10th, 2008 at 12:28 pm
Nelson is a great kid with a great work ethic. Nelson will only get better and he can defend which is what we will need this year without Baron and Monte. Keep hard work and character on the team which means you keep Nelson.
petaluman October 10th, 2008 at 12:39 pm
Players sent down to the NBDL still count on the roster. Unless a last-minute trade occurs, it’ll be as Geoff outlined - 5 players vying for 3 spots.
ohmigod, the w’s went from BD to ME to Nelson? You want to talk about downgrading?
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