NEW ORLEANS -- Warriors rookie Nemanja Nedovic dribbled around a screen on the right wing. You knew he was feeling it because instead of barreling to the basket, he picked up his dribble and launched a pull-up 3.

"That's not really my shot," he said, "so I was happy I made it."

Sure, he was playing against NBA Development League competition, on loan to the Santa Cruz Warriors for a game. That is what Nedovic, drafted by the Warriors with the 30th pick in the first round, wanted.

The 22-year-old Serbian's confidence had been steadily growing. But playing more than 35 minutes, dominating to the tune of 31 points on 12 shots, that was a significant boost. That matters because his role with Golden State is trending up.

Portland Trail Blazers’ Mo Williams, right, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors’ Nemanja Nedovic (8) during the first half of an NBA
Portland Trail Blazers' Mo Williams, right, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors' Nemanja Nedovic (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Backup point guard Toney Douglas is still resting the stress reaction in his left tibia. Andre Iguodala, who spends some time running the show, is out indefinitely with a strained left hamstring. Second-year guard Kent Bazemore hasn't worked as a point guard option.

That leaves the Warriors with two real options: play Stephen Curry 48 minutes or give Nedovic some real time. If it's the latter, Nedovic feels much better about his chances to deliver.

"I don't know if I will score 31 in a game," he said after his Santa Cruz debut, flashing a smile. "But I hope it will translate. It was important for my confidence. It was important for me to get those minutes. I had fun."


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Nedovic said he was prepared to spend a lot of time on the bench in the NBA. He said coach Mark Jackson warned him of the plans to work him in slowly. But already, Nedovic is finding himself creeping into the rotation.

He played a season-high 13 minutes in the loss to Portland on Saturday, and it wasn't his usual garbage-time run.

With Iguodala out, Nedovic is the most legitimate ballhandler on the roster behind Curry. He could potentially see meaningful minutes when the Warriors visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. So the timely reminder of what he can do on the court, courtesy of a trip to Santa Cruz, could come in handy.

"You could make the case he was the best player on the floor," Jackson said. "I think that does wonders for your confidence."

The Warriors don't need him to be the best player on the court. But his steady improvement seems to suggest he can give them something.

Golden State, losers of three straight, can use some punch off the bench. With Harrison Barnes having to start in Iguodala's absence, the Warriors are missing a change-of-pace player. Heck, they could just use someone to eat up 15 minutes and bring the ball up.

It's looking as if Nedovic, as he continues to grow comfortable, might be able to give the Warriors more.

He knocked down all four of his 3-pointers during his one-game stint in Santa Cruz and his only 3-point attempt against Portland. He said that's a result of the work he's put in on his outside shot since he's been with the team.

Nedovic also was 9 of 11 from the line. He seemed to have a knack for finding the creases of the Austin Toros defense, then using his 6-foot-3, 192-pound frame to create contact on his aggressive pursuits to the rim. Yeah, the Warriors could use some of that, too.

"I'm working out every day with Steph, Toney, all those great players," Nedovic said. "They definitely have impacted my game."

Tuesday's game: Warriors (8-6) at New Orleans (6-7), 5 p.m. CSNBA


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