OAKLAND — Warriors point guard C.J. Watson missed Wednesday's practice with a strained right elbow, hurting his bid to win a spot in the rotation as the starting or backup point guard.
With seven minutes left in the first quarter of Tuesday night's home exhibition game against Lietuvos Rytas, Watson copped a steal and scored a fast-break layup. Lietuvos Rytas swingman Steponas Babrauskas fouled Watson in the act, sending him sprawling into the seats underneath the basket. Watson spilled over the chairs and onto the concrete walkway, hyperextending and bruising his elbow.
"I tried to plant myself when I fell, and I think I extended it," Watson said after practice, his elbow wrapped in a bandage. "I felt it pop a little, then it hit the concrete, too. Kind of the best of both worlds."
Watson said he couldn't shoot in the second half and was in pain Wednesday morning. He said it hurts to shoot, pass and dribble but that the pain has subsided some. By the end of practice — which he spent working on the side with Mark Grabow, the Warriors' director of athletic development — he was able to shoot free throws normally.
Watson's right elbow was scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday. Even if the results show no serious damage, this is unfortunate timing for Watson. Coach Don Nelson has singled out DeMarcus Nelson as the likely starting point guard. These next few practices leading up to Wednesday's season opener are all Watson has left to change that, or at least solidify himself as the backup over Marcus Williams.
Making matters worse for Watson is that Williams has turned up his play lately. His last two practices — sandwiched around Tuesday's DNP vs. Lietuvos Rytas — were deemed by coach Nelson as his best yet. He has been aggressive offensively, frequently getting to the basket and creating offense. And his shot has been falling.
Still, it's going to take more to please Nelson.
"He had another good practice today," Nelson said. "That's not really what I'm looking for. I'm looking for him to guard, rebound and make plays, and shoot when he's open. I don't judge him on making shots."
Nellie on youth
This is going to be fun for Nelson, right, molding and shaping all the Warriors' young talent? Wrong.
"I'm uncomfortable simply because we have so many young players," Nelson said. "This is a situation where our team is very green. There are a lot of situations they can hurt you. And we understand that.
"A year ago, I knew exactly what I had," he added. "I had veterans come in who attended to business. This year, we're different. We're green and growing. We've got a lot of development to do here with our younger players. I would prefer a veteran team, you know, a (butt)-kicking veteran team that would have a chance to win a title is what I deserve at 68, I would think. But that's not what we have here. We have a younger team that needs development, and that could be fun. I enjoy watching younger kids get better. Look at (Brandan) Wright. That guy took a year of training, and now he's able to play an NBA game."
Swingman Corey Maggette is also banged up. He has a strained right hamstring that had him watching the end of practice on the sideline. Williams (poked in the eyes) and center Andris Biedrins (hit in the head) also walked away from practice wounded. ... Nelson said he hasn't gone over the roster situation with Chris Mullin, executive vice president of basketball operations, but the coach expects the team to carry 15 players. That means the Warriors need to cut one more.
— Marcus Thompson II