Warriors draft pick ready to make NBA transition
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)
Golden State Warriors first-round pick Nemanja Nedovic has had a dozen different coaches in the last six years. He went through three coaches last season alone playing for Lietuvos rytas of the Euroleague, and he has never had much stability in his life or career moving around with his family.
''It's crazy,'' Nedovic said on a teleconference from Serbia on Monday. ''I don't know if it's good for a young player to change coaches so much. At least I'm used to adapting to new situations.''
Nedovic's next transition could be his toughest: making an NBA roster.
The Serbian point guard said he has never been to the San Francisco Bay Area. He had never even been to the United States until last month when he had pre-draft workouts in Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Atlanta and New York before heading back to Belgrade.
But he said he's not intimidated by new places or cultures. He lived in Italy for a few years while his father played professional handball, then returned to Serbia with his family before going to Lithuania.
While in Italy, he played everything from handball to soccer. At age 11, when his mom took him to basketball practice for the first time, he said ''I knew that was the sport I was going to play the rest of my life.''
Kobe Bryant was his favorite player and a big reason he started playing basketball. He's familiar with most of the NBA teams, waking up at all hours in Europe to watch games live on television.
Nedovic even recalled watching the Warriors' surprising run to the second round of the playoffs last season, and one of his favorite memories was seeing Stephen Curry score 54 points in Golden State's loss at New York on Feb. 27.
''Everybody in Serbia was watching Steph Curry killing the Knicks in Madison Square Garden,'' he said.
The 22-year-old Nedovic averaged 9.8 points and 2.1 assists in 10 Euroleague games last season. Nedovic, listed at 6-foot-3, 192 pounds, played the previous three years in Serbia.
''Maybe I'm the European Derrick Rose, but I'm not the real one,'' he joked.
When Nedovic will make his NBA debut is still unclear.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers said last week the Warriors hope Nedovic will be able to join the team for summer league games in Las Vegas later this month and expects him to be in the NBA either this season or next season. A lot of that could depend on whether unrestricted free agent Jarrett Jack returns or if he can beat out last season's undrafted rookie, Kent Bazemore.
''I'm ready,'' Nedovic said.
Since the draft, Nedovic has had brief conversations with Myers and Warriors coach Mark Jackson about making the transition. He said he will try to remain patient and be ready when called upon.
For now, he's just trying to enjoy the moment. Coming to the Warriors wasn't so much of a surprise as when he heard his name, he said, while watching the draft back in Belgrade with friends and family.
''It was a little bit longer than I expected,'' he said. ''Everybody was going to sleep and I was expected to be somewhere in the second round and it was really, really a big surprise when my agent texted me like 10 seconds before they said my name. It was honestly a shock. In that moment, it was unreal.''
Nedovic said he's flattered by how much the Warriors did to get a draft pick - and take him with it.
The Warriors first acquired the No. 26 pick from Minnesota along with guard Malcolm Lee for $1.6 million and a 2014 second-round pick. They then traded No. 26 to Oklahoma City for No. 29, getting $1 million in the transaction. Finally, Myers dealt the 29th pick and the rights to Lee to Phoenix and took Nedovic with the final pick of the first round.
''It cannot be better,'' Nedovic said. ''It's the right place for me to be.''
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP