The Sleeper? DeMarcus Nelson

One guy who’s been ripping it up in practice is former Duke guard and Vallejo native DeMarcus Nelson. I watched most of practice on Thursday, and he was dominant. He threw down one tomahawk dunk that shocked me a bit, then he almost broke the rim trying to dunk on like three big men. He also knocked down open shots, ran the offense, got to the basket, scored in traffic, defended C.J. Watson. He looked really good.
He’s getting it done in games, he just doesn’t get many minutes behind Marco Belinelli. He’s averaging 5.3 points in 10 minutes.
“That’s all I want is a chance,” Nelson said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s what I’ve been working for … Summer league has been good. I’ve been playing well. I’ve been trying to do everything they ask me to do, and at the same time demonstrate what I can do. It’s been great. I love the guys. I love the system here, and we’re 3-0.”
Nelson will stick with the Warriors’ summer league squad in Utah. He said he felt good about his chances of being invited to training camp in October.
One thing that really stands out about him is his hunger. He plays with an aggressive urgency, like he knows he has something to prove. It can hurt him some, as he tries to do too much (four turnovers in 10 minutes vs. Dallas). But the dude has a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t understand why he’s in this situation, struggling trying to make training camp. It only took one question for him to let loose.
Question: Did not getting drafted shake your confidence?
Answer: “It didn’t shake my confidence in who I was. It just frustrated me because I had a great senior season. I don’t think anybody else in the country had a better senior season than me. I don’t think anybody had the pressures of leading their team every night, defending the best offensive player (point guard through power forward), scoring, being the leading scorer, being the leading defensive player, and then still setting up your teammates on the offensive side. I had to do that every night for me team. There was not one player who had that type of responsibility. And then going into predraft, I played well at Orlando, second-leading scorer at camp. And then workouts, I went against some of the top guys and had great workouts. Everywhere I went, I had a good showing. So the draft was tough for me because it didn’t feel like I was fully appreciated for what I do. It never shook my confidence in who I am. But it just more so ignited a passion, a deeper passion, a fire.”
Many people talk about how these athletes should stay in school. He did. All four years. At Duke. He has experience under pressure, in big games, playing a key role. His body is developed. He knows his strengths and weaknesses.
He is somewhat undersized for a shooting guard (6-foot-4, 200 pounds), and not really a point guard (though he can handle well). Other than that, I think he’s good enough to play in the NBA, and probably worth keeping around to see if he develops.
With the Mickael Pietrus gone, and Kelenna Azubuike possibly on his way out, and Marco Belinelli moving up in the rotation, the Warriors need a competitive practice player and someone who can play spot minutes. Maybe he turns out to be a player.

Marcus Thompson

  • newmaywah

    Hey Marcus,
    Great article. Want you to know I appreciate the news we can use blogging you are doing. I like knowing that things are happening rather than finding out when all is done and the thing is put to bed. Nice that you call a player while he’s waiting to hear what team he’s going to be on, or this one about a player trying to make just the training camp roster, to have a chance. Being a guard DeMarcus has a better chance than other positions, I would guess. DeMarcus’ numbers are not extraordinary, but if he is driven and hungry, he will make it, because perserverence is the most important thing. That’s what I would hate about seeing Kelanna go – he was one of the hardest working Warriors and that is hard to replace.
    Keep it up!

  • Rostaslav

    And he has angelic eyes.

  • Niners in 2009

    Nice story, but I’d rather bring in a vet like Dooling.

  • Jrs2300

    Where is the Sharpshooter at ? for a team that shoots from 3 so much… where is the sharpshooting specialist ? or is that Belinelli ? Where’s the Dell Curry’s and the Chuck Person’s of the NOW… Lift your drinks everyone… here’s to a season of 9 of 20 from 3.. then 3 of 25 from 3 the next game…

  • Scott

    Personally, I think the Warriors match Azubuike. He’s trusted by Nelson, and knows the system. I think this years bench will prove to be more talented and deeper than last years.

    If you think about it, the Warriors bench stunk last year. Pietrus was inconsistent at best, Barnes was terrible, Croshere was hurt, Troy hudson barely made it through a week, and Pat O’Bryant was a non factor.

    This years bench potential: Turiaf, Azubuike, Wright, Belinelli, Randolph…I think this group is way more talented than last years bench.

  • long suffering

    I think DeMarcus’ biggest obstacle is that he measured out at 6′ 1″ in bare feet. He is very short for a SG (arguably a bit short for a PG). That said, his other combine numbers are pretty amazing…actually, he seems to be an athletic freak. Bench pressed the same as Joey Dorsey, 38.5″ vertical, had a good shooting percentage in college and nice rebounding numbers for a G.


    He’s really not a big time scorer, perhaps he sticks as a PG project and lock down defender…I hope he finds a way to make the team. Roster spots are going to be tight, though.

  • Richard

    I also was shocked Nelson wasn’t drafted, he had a stellar senior season. With Kelena leaving though Nelson has a good chance to make this team. If he does GS will have two former Duke guys. In my view, you can’t have enough ex-Duke guys on your team. Coach K is
    such a great coach, so they come out of that program with a great knowledge of the game. If Nelson makes the team he will have gotten to play for Coach K, and Nellie; it doesn’t get any better than that. After Nelson finishes his career he can go on and coach. Coaches get paid pretty good these days, and there careers last a lot longer than NBA guys.

  • garlicboy

    Watson is not playing in the RMR, which means Nelson or another free agent PG will get signed by the Dubs to play point in the RMR.

  • commish

    As interesting as Nelson is, I want to see if Jamont Gordon is going to show up in Salt Lake as I read today. I had hoped we might have even drafted him in the second round. Here is some info:


  • garlicboy

    Jamont played better than Demarcus Nelson in Vegas, but let’s see what if he’s on our squad and who else will be on our squad.

  • garlicboy
  • Niners in 2009

    Any updates on Azubuike? Does he want us to match or not?

    Personally I hope we don’t match, we need to use that capspace to get PG.

  • Craig

    DeMarcus is a great kid,he may never reach star-statis in the NBA but what great character. With the way NBA players carry themselves every team needs a DeMarcus Nelson

  • petaluman

    I’m guessing that if we ink a contract with another team’s RFA before Azubuike’s week is up, it would go against the cap. We could still match Kelenna, since he’s our RFA. However, if the other team matched (and we retained KA), we’d be stuck with no cap space, right?

    Unless we’re feeling pretty confident, this would seem to argue in favor of signing a unrestricted FA. Also, I read your aticle saying that we couldn’t use any of the other exceptions since we began the off-season under the cap. Didn’t we only drop below the cap when Baron opted out? Can we still sign players to minimum contracts?

  • Marcus


    Azubuike isn’t counting against the cap for the Warriors. It won’t be until they match that he does. So they could feasibly sign someone unrestricted right now with the $4 or $5 million they have before their seven days on Azubuike expires, then match Azubuike. Or, they could sign someone to an offer sheet, locking up that remaining cap space, then match Azubuike.
    If they match Azubuike before making any other moves, the only real noise they can make is a trade.

  • waitscale

    Demarcus measures out at 6’2″…BUT…he has a 6’10” WINGSPAN!!!…that’s ridiculous…I’ve watched every single game he played in college, and D Money brings it every game…if he doesn’t make the Warriors squad, I think he’ll catch on somewhere…San Antonio??..thanks for the article

  • Nelson in a couple of years could become a starter at point. Seems the Warriors have a spot for him to get to where he needs to be.

  • Charlie

    This guy Demarcus Nelson is an absolute sleeper. He just ran the point with C.J. Watson down against the Nets in a summer league game and he scored 9 points and had 6 assists. this guy may not be a point guard in the NBA but he can flat out play and make his teammates around them better. I hope he makes the Squad because he can run, run, run and can slam it down, almost like a J-Rich but not quite there yet. If Bellinelli falters as the backup shooting guard, Nelson should be ready to step in and help the Warriors out this season. Im excited for the W’s this year. Its more than just BD. Its about the whole team and we have a lot of young talent and rising stars with some consistent experienced vets. Don’t count the Warriors out just yet in the powerhouse west!

  • D. Gibson

    I’m a lifelong DUKE fan, and watched DeMarcus all four years. I don’t think he played 100% healthy until his senior year. And (per his answer in the Q&A), he wore a lot of hats last year for the Devils. But …..

    Unless he develops a reliable 17-21 foot JUMP shot (not the set shot he relied on at college), it’s going to be tough for him. The running, open court style of the Warriors seems to be the best fit for his game.

    He’s a class act, so I hope he makes it, if not at GSt, somewhere in the NBA.

  • Jared

    Demarcus is a phenomenal player and person. I wish him success in everything he does. I hope the Warriors give him a chance.

  • D. Watson

    The Warriors have a diamond in the rough, this guy is the definition of athletic, they better not let him get away.

  • T. Penn

    DeMarcus Nelson is the all time leading scorer in high school in California and 2nd or 3rd leading rebounder (as a guard). The kid was unfortunately injured the first 3 years at Duke and did not show his potential until his Senior year at Duke. The kid was asked to do other things for the team and still did well. This kid has high character and work ethic and does have something to prove. IF Neelie wants him to score…he can score. Looking forward to seeing Markie have a very good pro career once given a chance with the Warriors or elsewhere….

  • chronictrees

    DeMarcus came to play against our high school my senior year and our suburban upper class team made him look like kobe bryant. i wasnt very impressed with his showing at duke and he does seem a bit small but he can flat out play. hes a freak athlete and can jump out the gym.

  • C. Hern

    Growing up with his I can tell you one thing, he has heart and dedication that strives him to become the athlete he is today. Given any opportunity he will never let you down. Showing how impressive his senior year was and given the title defensive player of the year is a great accomplishment and never just a head gesture. I really hope he settles in with GSW, I think the tempo of the game there will allow him to adapt more promptly and will show his athletic side extraordinarily more. On top of that, he always wanted to play for the GSW. 😀

  • aquene

    HE IS SEXY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ty


  • Darryl

    Projected as “Starting PG for Opening Night for the Dubs”

    …… enough said.

  • Darryl

    and wassup Ty? Don’t know you but my son played backup PG behind D.N. for a year at VHS.

    BTW, looks like CC Sabathia is about to get a “big” payday! VHS getting their props lately

  • zetta

    I love demarcus and think he is a great player i remember from high school and watching him was magic. the nba needs players that are hungry for it and i believe he is.