• Andris Biedrins was the first Latvian player to be drafted in the NBA
  • Biedrins was considered to be the big man of the future for the Warriors
  • Reports say that it was coach Don Nelson’s criticisms of him made Biedrins lose his self-confidence

A coach’s tongue-lashing may work for some players as some may think of it as a way to improve their game. In the case of a former center who used to be seen as the center for the future of the Golden State Warriors, it was something that buried his spirits down and lost interest in the sport.

Before Rodions Kurucs, Anzejs Pazecniks, Davis Bertans, and Kristaps Porzingis made their way in the NBA, there was Andris Biedrins. He was the first-ever Latvian to be drafted in the league in 2004 after the Golden State Warriors drafted him with their 11th pick. He was the youngest player in the NBA when the 2004-2005 NBA season started at 18 years old but didn’t do well in his first two seasons.

Until Don Nelson took over Mike Montgomery’s coaching job.

He put the 6-foot-11 big man at the starting line-up and that’s where he and his production flourished. He’s almost tripled his production and has become the team’s main big man but when Keith Smart was named the new coach of the team, the new coach needed to address something with his team’s center.

Reports from NBC Sports said that it hs something to do with Nelson’s way of criticizing Biedrins’ games over the past two years, both in public and in private and those words broke the spirit of the young, promising center.

Smart flew to Latvia to remind the emotionally-crushed Biedrins that he has the tools and the talent to become the player he wanted to be. Biedrins and now the third-coach he’s been under with the Warriors did everything to bring the old Latvian big man that they used to know – twice a day practices and countless conversations about life and family. Though Biedrins said that he’s had the best player-coach relationship with Smart, the scar he had with his old coach was just too deep for him to recover.

Biedrins stayed with the team for three more seasons before he was shipped to the Utah Jazz before going back to his native Latvia after he was waived. He finished his NBA career with 7.0 rebounds, 6.3 points, and 11 blocks in 10 seasons – nine of which with the Warriors.

Andris Biedrins
The trade in question is Warriors center Andris Biedrins for the Rockets center Hasheem Thabeet and power forward Jordan Hill. Reuters