By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND — DeMarcus Nelson is on the cusp of going from undrafted rookie to full-fledged member of the Golden State Warriors, with a salary of $442,114 to prove it.
But even after his primary competition for a spot on the Warriors’ roster was shown the door Sunday, Nelson still doesn’t feel safe.
“You can say that (I should be confident), but at the end of the day, it’s just about what the team needs at the time,” Nelson said. “I’ve just tried to contribute to the team in whatever way that I can to help the team win, and hope that it’s good enough.”
Nelson, the Oakland-born, Vallejo-raised Duke product who came to Warriors camp with nothing more than a glimmer of hope was all but assured of making the team when Dan Dickau was waived.
Golden State had hoped Dickau would firm up a point-guard situation thrown into flux by Monta Ellis’ injury, but the six-year NBA veteran didn’t make much of an impression after joining the squad four days into training camp. The move won’t cost the Warriors anything, since Dickau was on a make-good deal.
“I gave him the opportunity to come back and stay an extra week, but I didn’t think he was going to make our team,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
Instead, Dickau — who was originally slated to spend this season in Italy with Air Avellino but parted ways last month after his family had trouble adjusting to life abroad — went home to Portland after the Warriors returned from China this weekend.
In his wake, Dickau received nothing but praise for his attitude and mentoring skills.
“Dickau, he was good for me, because in the time he was here, even though we were competing for the same position, he was pulling me to the side and trying to show me different things, giving me some wisdom,” DeMarcus Nelson said. “So I definitely appreciate him for that, because he didn’t have to do things like that to help me.”
Don Nelson has clearly been tickled with the progress DeMarcus Nelson — who was primarily a defensive stopper at shooting guard or small forward for the Blue Devils — has made in his transformation to point guard. And even though the coach wouldn’t confirm Sunday that DeMarcus Nelson has made the team, he has said on multiple occasions that he wants to take three healthy point guards into the season, and…
Dan Dickau’s dream was dashed Sunday. DeMarcus Nelson’s came true.
Nelson, the Oakland-born, Vallejo-raised rookie who came to Warriors camp with nothing more than an unlikely hope was all but assured of making the team this afternoon when Golden State released Dickau.
The Warriors had hoped Dickau would firm up a point-guard situation thrown into flux by Monta Ellis’ injury, but the 6-year NBA veteran didn’t make much of an impression after joining the squad 4 days into training camp.
Nelson, meanwhile overcame a flawed jump shot by providing ballhawking defense and an ability to breakdown opponents with the dribble that neither of the Warriors other two healthy point guards — C.J. Watson and Marcus Williams — have shown to this point.
Thoughts from the Warriors’ 98-94 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Guangzhou, China early Wednesday morning (thank you, TiVo).
** I would love to ask what the hell was going on with the Warriors’ final inbounds play, when they were down by four
threepoints (EDIT: It seemed they were down three points. Apparently, the scorekeeping was so faulty that they were actually down four) with 1.8 seconds remaining. For those who didn’t see it: DeMarcus Nelson took the ball out of bounds deep on the left wing, near the mid-court line. Marco Belinelli came from below the hoop, curled around the top of the key and headed away from Nelson, hoping to catch a long lob from Nelson and fire up a game-tying shot. Except Belinelli was looking over his right shoulder for the ball and Nelson threw it over his left, where it bounced and skittered out of bounds on the opposite sideline.
** Nelson looked OK at point guard on the break (he had one very nice drive and kick out to an open Corey Maggette, who missed from the right corner) or in scramble situations (he grabbed an offensive rebound, cruised into the lane and fired a bullet to Kelenna Azubuike for an open layup) but had a pretty rough time running the half-court sets and was not very effective on screen-rolls. Whatever scoring he’s going to do will come in transition or from breaking down his man.
** Maggette really has fantastic body control. He’s able to pivot away from an attempted charge, create glancing contact for a blocking foul and still have the momentum to get off a decent shot attempt. I haven’t heard much one way or the other about Maggette’s rep in the Warriors’ locker room, but if he’s such a cancer (per his L.A. reputation), why was he working so hard to give Azubuike some last-second advice before the Warriors’ final play?
** Solid game for Azubuike, coming back from the sore hip. He looked even better compared to Belinelli’s diffident outing.
** Not a good night for Dan Dickau, who started the second half. He lasted only 3:13 before being yanked, never to be seen again, and here were the final four possessions with him on the court:
Ill-advised corner-to-corner pass by Dickau, meant for Belinelli but easily picked off by a lurking Luc Mbah a Moute;
Luke Ridnour drive right past Dickau for a running 12-footer;
About that post where I said DeMarcus Nelson was the player least likely to make the Warriors’ roster? Just go ahead and delete that from your RSS feeds, please.
Barring a tumble off the Great Wall this week or some other injury catastrophe, the Vallejo product who grew up watching the Warriors should be a Warrior when the regular season begins Oct. 29.
Nelson drew uniform raves Saturday after starting at the point and proceeding to knock down eight of 10 shots, record seven assists and create four steals against just two turnovers in 33 minutes against Oklahoma City.
Don Nelson started off his postgame remarks with a remark to those doubters in the audience (“Well, now you know why I like the guy”), and teammates Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson both gave him unqualified support in his bid to beat out fellow guards Dan Dickau and Anthony Morrow in a bid for one of the Warriors’ last roster spots.
“I’m not surprising myself, because first I have to have confidence in myself before anybody else can believe in me,” DeMarcus Nelson said. “And the things that I’m doing now are the things that I’ve been doing all my life. I think now it’s just people are starting to get a better understanding of how good or how effective it can be at this level.”
It started on the first on the Warriors’ possession of the night, when Marco Belinelli kicked a pass out to Nelson on the left wing and he knocked down an open 18-footer, a jab at those folks who don’t believe in his shot (don’t know who that could be…). It didn’t stop until he rocked a pair of dunks in the second half that brought the house down.
“He has my vote to make the team,” Harrington said. “Hopefully he did enough tonight to show that he wants to be a Warrior. And I think that he’ll bring a very interesting dynamic to this team, something very different than what we get from most point guards. To me, he plays like in his mind he’s 7 feet tall. That’s big. He’s a guard that could not only distribute the ball, but he’ll help with rebounding and is definitely going to be a presence defensively, so I think that’s definitely a guy that we should have around for 82 games, because we’ll need him at some point.”
Since Nelson is officially listed…
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…
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TagsAcie Law Al Harrington Allen Iverson Andris Biedrins Anthony Morrow Anthony Randolph Baron Davis Brandan Wright C.J. Watson Chris Cohan Chris Hunter Chris Mullin Corey Maggette Dan Dickau DeMarcus Nelson Devean George Don Nelson Gilbert Arenas Jamal Crawford Jason Richardson Jeff Fried Jermareo Davidson Keith Smart Kelenna Azubuike Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant Larry Riley Marco Belinelli Marcus Williams Matt Barnes Mickael Pietrus Mikki Moore Monta Ellis Patrick O'Bryant Richard Hendrix Robert Rowell Rob Kurz Ronny Turiaf Stephen Curry Stephen Jackson Stephon Marbury Steve Nash Troy Murphy Vladimir Radmanovic
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