OAKLAND — Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson said he's willing to keep as many as four point guards on his opening-day roster, which is good news for DeMarcus Nelson and Dan Dickau.
The news is perhaps better for DeMarcus Nelson.
"He's gone from a guy who I didn't think had a chance to make our team, and he's coach's favorite player right now," Don Nelson said. "That must mean something."
"That's a great feeling, especially being a rookie and a non-contract guy," said DeMarcus, the Bay Area native and former Duke star, who is no relation to his coach. "Now it's up to me just to continue what I've been doing and even build on that and get better.
"I'm playing well and everyone's recognized that. But I don't want to say I'm secure because I'm not."
That's because in the absence of Monta Ellis, likely out another couple months with an ankle injury, the Warriors have developed a glut of contenders for the temp job. Marcus Williams and C.J. Watson hold down the first two spots, leaving the 30-year-old Dickau, a veteran of six NBA teams, in a battle with the 22-year-old Nelson.
The coach said Dickau was brought aboard because of his savvy and experience.
"He's a very good point guard," Don Nelson said. "Physically, he's not gifted, but he does the right thing most every time."
Dickau is only here because the two-year deal he signed with Avellino in the Italian league disintegrated within a month. Neither the basketball nor the living situation was right for Dickau, his wife, and their three young children, who spent three weeks in a hotel.
When Dickau developed back spasms for two days, club officials assumed he arrived as damaged goods and things unraveled.
"We knew there'd be an adjustment," Dickau said. "The adjustment never happened."
For DeMarcus Nelson, the all-time California high school scoring leader, the adjustment is moving to the point after playing off the ball at Duke.
Nelson is not a good perimeter shooter, but said he worked on his ball-handling and point-guard skills after practice every day at Duke because he knew his future depended on it. His current coach likes the versatility.
"Nelson's very impressive. How could you not like that guy?" Don Nelson said. "He does everything, except he's not a great shooter. But he does everything else. He can get into the lane better than anybody I have. He's now learning how to find people."
DeMarcus acknowledges he probably wouldn't have this chance had Ellis not been injured.
"That's something you don't want to wish on anybody. But I don't think it's a career-changing injury for him," DeMarcus said. "For me, I think it gave me an opportunity to give them a better look at what I can provide this team. It's career-changing for me."
Notes: The Warriors made two cuts Thursday, waiving rookie wing Dion Dowell and center Justin Williams. ... Kelenna Azubuike did not practice after bruising his hip during Wednesday night's game at Portland in a collision with Ike Diogu. His status is uncertain for Saturday's home exhibition game against Oklahoma City.
Contact Jeff Faraudo at email@example.com.