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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