ATLANTA — Warriors forward Anthony Tolliver hears the comparison all the time.
At 6-foot-9, 243 pounds, with his shaved head and dark complexion, people for years have told him he resembles John Salley.
"I first heard that in the third grade," Tolliver said with a smile. "If my career ends up like his, I'll be in good shape."
Tolliver has taken the first step to matching the career of Salley, who totaled 12 years in the NBA with Detroit, Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers.
After consecutive 10-day contracts with the Warriors in January, Tolliver was signed for the remainder of the season. Now his attention is on proving he belongs long term.
Tolliver, who started his rookie season in 2008-09 on Cleveland's bench before going to the NBA Development League, got a shot with Portland earlier this season. He got four minutes of action. Total.
In 22 games with the Warriors, he's averaged 9.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 27.7 minutes. He's earned the trust of his coaches and the respect of his teammates with his willingness to rebound and defend and his ability to spread the floor with his outside shot.
In the Warriors' last 22 games, starting today at Atlanta, Tolliver said he wants to show he can do it all the time.
Playing for a team that needs rebounding and defense and is constantly looking for frontcourt players who can shoot from the outside, Tolliver figures to have every opportunity to show what he can do.
"I know I'm going to play," Tolliver said. "I'm going to get an opportunity to prove myself. As far as this stage of my career, I don't think there is a better place for me. This is the shot that everybody in my position always hopes for. And I'm getting it."
Tolliver got this opportunity because he learned from a mistake he made last year.
He was waived by Cleveland before playing a second. He waited around in the D-League for another shot but after the trade deadline decided to go make some money. So he signed with a team in Germany.
Shortly after Tolliver left, the Cavaliers called up a D-League forward. Tolliver said he blew his chance by not being available and vowed it wouldn't happen again. So when opportunities to play in China and Greece surfaced this season, he hardly considered them and stayed in the D-League.
Tolliver is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but he acknowledged having thought about competing for a roster spot on the Warriors next season. He said he still could contribute even when the team is healthy, which will include power forwards Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright.
Tolliver has struggled shooting, especially from 3-point range, but he expects to get his percentages up. For now, he's shooting 41.9 percent from the field. He missed 24 of his first 28 shots from 3-point range but has gotten his average up to 33.9 percent from behind the arc.
"Since I signed my guaranteed contract," he said, "I'm shooting over 50 percent from three."