Like so many highly-touted recruits who take Mike Krzyzewski's scholarship, DeMarcus Nelson found his legacy muted after four years at Duke. Nelson had been one of the Bay Area's brightest basketball prospects of the decade, coming out of Vallejo and then spending his senior year at Sheldon High in Sacramento before putting on a Blue Devil jersey as J.J. Redick captured the hearts and minds of America. But nothing ever went quite right in Durham, and Nelson went undrafted this June.
Nelson is a nominal point guard -- he played the two a lot in college -- and lo! most NBA teams could use at least one point guard. Golden State is no exception. In fact, the Warriors could probably use three point guards. Baron Davis fled, Monta Ellis (hardly a point guard in the first place) broke himself, and C.J.
Watson (edited, blame Jazz fever!) and Marcus Williams are fighting for the starting job. Nelson came into the preseason competing with Dan Dickau (late of Los Angeles, your nightmares) for a back-up role. Dickau has been cut, and Nelson appears to have a job.
As is so often the case, Nelson finds himself facing long odds to get meaningful playing time ... which is unfortunate, because players at Nelson's level need meaningful playing time to audition for their next job. When I consider Nelson's status, I think of Dahntay Jones, another Duke product floating around the fringes. Jones is a strong defender and a hyper-athletic airman who is capable of flying over anything/one. But he can't shoot and can barely score, and he spent the end of last season in the D-League. The nation is littered with situations like this. Here's the hoping Nelson (and hell, Jones) can break out of the league's caste system for guards and make the NBA for good.