Nellie on loving Belinelli, figuring out Ellis, Tim Kawakami

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:27 am
By Tim Kawakami
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 1:47 pm in Warriors, NBA.

Yes, it was me. Yes, I admit I tossed out the hushed must-ask question of the day to Don Nelson during his first at-large media appearance since May:

Don, did you catch your buddy/arch-enemy Mark Cuban’s “Dancing with the Stars” debut last night?

“Yeah–well, at least I admit I can’t dance,” Nelson said at the end of his 40-minute jam session at Warriors HQ this morning.

Oh, good to have you back, too, Nellie. (I knew Nellie’d be watching Cuban. For cross-examination purposes, if for nothing else.)

I’m heading out to AT&BB Park in a bit, so I won’t go through the whole Nelson Q & A, plus my tape recorder just blew up (again), plus you’ll be reading nice accounts in the papers tomorrow morning.

Nelson said he wasn’t bitter about his long contract impasse with Warriors management, said he’s fine with his salary now, promised he wouldn’t try to negotiate again next summer (I’ll believe that when I see it and maybe not even then) and said he wants Chris Mullin to win NBA executive of the year.

Typical Nellie. Fine and dandy. That’s his patter heading into camp, and that’s good–however, I like to hear the other stuff, beyond the patter, and there was other stuff covered.

I’ll summarize swiftly, because I was there and how can I be at a Warriors’ event and NOT blog/summarize/analyze/long-wind-ize?

The interesting points (to me):

* Nelson basically put rookie Marco Belinelli into the starting line-up, replacing the traded Jason Richardson.


Nelson mentioned Kelenna Azubuike and Stephen Jackson (better used as the small forward), but it’s clear that his heart, for now, is with the long-ball shooting, gutsy Italian rookie.

“I’m assuming Belinelli’s really ready to go,” Nelson said. “The guy’s got stardom written all over him.”

I asked Nelson to compare Belinelli’s game to any current or former NBA player, and Nelson said there are no real comparisons–Belinelli’s that special, reads screens that well, is that savvy, can play that aggressively.

(I’m thinking an extra-athletic Jeff Hornacek or a weirder Reggie Miller.)

Nelson said that he and his staff already have offensive sets designed for Belinelli’s strengths–I’m assuming that means tricky screens set 28 feet from the hoop.

Now this could be typical Nellie September exaggeration (remember, he loved Dajuan Wagner last training camp), but I don’t think he’d be drawing up sets for somebody he didn’t genuinely love.

* Nelson said he doesn’t consider Monta Ellis a prime candidate at shooting guard because Ellis is too small–he has to be a point guard, Nelson said.

Ellis could probably mix and match with Baron Davis and Belinelli (who might play some point), or when Matt Barnes or SJax play point-forward. But it’s pretty clear that, for now, and probably for the rest of the Nellie Era, Ellis isn’t going to be the starting two-guard.

I agree with that decision, by the way. He’s too small to go up against the Ginobili-Kobe-Wade set.

* For now, Nelson’s talking up Austin Croshere at power forward. It’s probably just to stick an elbow into Al Harrington, but Nelson said that he needs rebounding at that spot and that Croshere has a track record in that area and Harrington does not.

* Nelson also made a point to pump up second-round pick Stephane Lasme as a rugged, running defender and rebounder. He said he considers Lasme a power forward right now.

* One name that was not mentioned, by Nellie or the assemblage: Mickael Pietrus.

* Nelson initially said he thought the Warriors have until July 1 to decide whether to exercise the option for 2008-2009, but upon further questioning (by me, again, I admit), said it’s probably June 1.

July 1 would be very, very disadvanteous to him–every potential opening could be closed by July 1. If it’s June 1–that’s the prime hiring period.

You know, I’d bet it’s even earlier than June 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out it’s somewhere in May.

Until then: Keep dancin’.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:58 am
Nelson also thought wonders of Dunleavy and then rightfuly played him very little. I expect Monta to be the starting SG and not Belinelli. Pietrus likely will not be here or at least is not in favour by the fact he wasn't mentioned
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:29 am
Actually, I agree that Monta is undersized for the SG position. I just wonder if Belinelli is ready to start there. If that happens, Monta will have to make a transition to PG, and his decision-making will have to improve by leaps and bounds.

Of course, that would make a lot of sense with our roster. We'll see.

The depth chart would be something like this:

PG: Baron/Monta/Hudson
SG: Belinelli/Azu
SF: S-Jax/Barnes
PF: Al/Croshere/Wright/Lasme
C: Beans/POB/Perovic


The starting lineup looks pretty good. I just wonder about the bench. It has a lot of potential, but only Barnes delivered during last year's playoffs.

I'm not counting Monta as proven due to two reasons:

1.- He would have to play lots of minutes at PG. I don't like him there, although I think he has room to improve. Would play minutes at SG, too, where I think he's more comfortable.

2.- He disappeared in the playoffs. I think it was a fluke and he'll learn from the experience, but there's room for concerns.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:23 am
migya wrote:Nelson also thought wonders of Dunleavy and then rightfuly played him very little. I expect Monta to be the starting SG and not Belinelli. Pietrus likely will not be here or at least is not in favour by the fact he wasn't mentioned


Agree. Monta will emerge as the team's second best player this year I think. I might go as far as saying he was last year as well.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:41 pm
cladden wrote: I might go as far as saying he was last year as well.


i wouldnt say that. i would put beidrins in front of monta and maybe even stephen jackson as far as last year goes. baron being first, of course.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:19 pm
i think azubuike is a great backup... ;D
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 6:14 pm
Monta was second or third best on the team the first two or three months for sure,Biedrins up there with him and Baron first. Monta has the skills obviously and is young enough that he should only get better and the thing is that with JRich gone, he will get more opportunities than pretty much everyone else
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:56 pm
whatever they said, monta is still ours future players along with marco belinelli and B.wright ?...biedrins also...
wish they have a great season....
maybe monta learn something from these few months but..who knows...just want tomorrow is NBA opening season day.... :(
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:47 am
Monta's too talented to be a backup. Last training camp, Nellie liked Pietrus, Dunleavy, and Wagner. How'd that work out?

While I'm sure Belinelli will outperform any of the 3 listed above, Nelson's obviously trying to motivate Ellis. You don't bench an 18 PPG scorer for a rookie. Anybody with half a brain knows that.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:54 am
TMC wrote:Actually, I agree that Monta is undersized for the SG position. I just wonder if Belinelli is ready to start there. If that happens, Monta will have to make a transition to PG, and his decision-making will have to improve by leaps and bounds.

Of course, that would make a lot of sense with our roster. We'll see.

The depth chart would be something like this:

PG: Baron/Monta/Hudson
SG: Belinelli/Azu
SF: S-Jax/Barnes
PF: Al/Croshere/Wright/Lasme
C: Beans/POB/Perovic


The starting lineup looks pretty good. I just wonder about the bench. It has a lot of potential, but only Barnes delivered during last year's playoffs.

I'm not counting Monta as proven due to two reasons:

1.- He would have to play lots of minutes at PG. I don't like him there, although I think he has room to improve. Would play minutes at SG, too, where I think he's more comfortable.

2.- He disappeared in the playoffs. I think it was a fluke and he'll learn from the experience, but there's room for concerns.

Monta was MIP last year and was arguably the most consistent W during th e regular season next to Baron and Sjax. That a 21 year 2 years out of high school had nerves and underperformed in the playoffs is not a shock. We are in an enviable position at guard, with a healthy BD one of the top five PGs in the league, a really healthy competition between Monta and Beli at SG, both of them having the potential to play some Point, and Hudson a capable backup.
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