Warriors

How Warriors will plan to utilize Alen Smailagic, two-way players

/ by Kerith Burke
Presented By AskKerith
Warriors

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

HAPPY NEW YEAR! My resolution is to be more charitable with my money and my time. I like doing more of things, rather than less of things. More vegetables mean I don’t have to eat less cheese!

Game On!

@covika #askKerith What’s the plan for Bowman and Smiley over the next month or so? Know there are lot of complications here with the contracts.
@KDgaming4 What does Steve Kerr like about Ky Bowman and will he have a roster spot for the foreseeable future #askKerith

Let’s talk about the two-way players before Alen Smailagic. Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he’d like to find a place on the roster for both Ky Bowman and Damion Lee. How this would be possible is ultimately up to general manager Bob Myers to figure out, but Kerr is high on the performances the two-way guys have contributed this season.

The Warriors lead the NBA in the most points scored by their two-way players (500+) this season. The second-most is Washington (100+). They’ve had to rely on these guys hard.

Giving two players full NBA contracts means you have to subtract from somewhere else, as Warriors Insider Monte Poole wrote about here.

 

The Warriors want to reward Bowman and Lee, both of whom Kerr has made sure to praise publicly as NBA-level talents. It’s still unclear how it will all shake out and the clock is ticking. After last night’s game, Bowman has worked 37 of his 45 days as a two-way player. Lee has worked 38. 

Now to Smailagic. He’s 19 years old. It was cool to see him make his NBA debut during the Christmas week homestand, but his minutes probably won’t be many this season with the big club. I say that knowing he played 10 minutes in San Antonio and 16 minutes in Minnesota. 

Smiley is in the developmental stages of his career, so the G League is the preferred spot for him. The Warriors are high on his potential!

@evenstrongerps4 Update on Looney's health? 

This season, Kevon Looney has missed 20 games with neuropathy, and five games with abdominal soreness. That’s tough for a player who is part of the Warriors foundation.

Kerr has explained that neuropathy isn’t really an injury with a start and a finish, it's an ongoing condition Looney will have to manage. 

Looney has missed so much time, other factors are now in play, like difficulty getting his conditioning up. That’s no fault of his own -- it's just the reality of getting his wind back. The stops and starts aren’t ideal. 

@houseofannie Are 42 wins within reach?
@bdzivi Once Steph returns, sometime in February, will they be able to play .500 ball from there on out for just those remaining games, at least on days when the vets aren't being rested for "load management" concerns?
@AutumnMayes1 What are the expectations for next year?? Playoff caliber team again??

I’m grouping these questions together because many question-askers are curious if the Warriors could make the playoffs this season, and what the future looks like.

This season first: The four-game winning streak over Christmas stirred some hope that in a weak West, playoffs could be a possibility. What if Steph comes back? What if Klay comes back? Could they make a push at the finish? It would be great to finish the season on a positive note, but I’m not sure the playoffs are possible. 

Steph will be re-evaluated in early February. That does not necessarily mean he’ll play at that time. Kerr said at the start of the season it’s “unlikely” Klay plays at all

The Warriors want to win for morale and to reap the rewards of what they’ve been learning this season. Winning too much could impact a lottery pick. The chips will fall where they may. No one will instruct the team to play poorly for draft purposes. 

 

All the struggle now builds to a promising future. All the minutes and film study and player development for guys who wouldn’t usually be in these situations will only make them stronger. With the Steph and Klay healthy next season, the Warriors should indeed be a playoff-caliber team in 2020-2021.

@MichaelSilvers8 what does the future look like for Omari Spellman? Seems like his playing time is down...thanks!

Early in the season, injuries forced the Warriors to play with eight or nine guys. Now they’re playing with 11, 12, or 13. More guys mean the minutes are spread around differently. Fewer minutes for Omari is simply the situation. He also missed a couple of games with an illness.

The Warriors believe in Omari and picked up his option back in October. That gives Omari the peace of mind that the team wants him around. 

As long as he keeps up the hustle plays and continues to score and rebound off the bench, he’ll be in good standing. He’s done well this season. 

@lvpelt When Eric Paschall fully recovers from his injury, will he be reinserted into the starting lineup? He was getting a lot of minutes and playing so well! I hope to see him get back into the ROY conversation. #askKerith

I think Paschall may get some spot starts depending on the situation, but a bench role may ideal. Paschall was an excellent starter for the Dubs during their injury-ravaged period. He earned his place in the early Rookie of the Year conversations, but that’s slowed down a bit. That’s OK!

Paschall and Jordan Poole were tossed in the fire with more minutes and responsibilities than most rookies experience. Their learning curve looked like a high-rise elevator, not a ramp. Kudos to them for doing their best. Poole is recalibrating in the G League, and I think Paschall will continue to contribute well as the minutes reshuffle. 

@barrys Where is Kevin Durant's jersey at the Chase Center? Thought the Dubs retired it.

The Dubs retired KD’s number in spirit when Joe Lacob declared:

 “...We thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part to one of the most prolific runs in NBA history and wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey. As long as I am Co-Chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”

An actual ceremony to raise his number in the rafters is TBD. It would be strange to retire KD’s number while he’s still playing. 

 

@Nick_McGurk Do you think Sunny Day Real Estate will ever reform?

I don’t know. Diary came out in 1994. I discovered SDRE years later, the summer before college. You asked an innocent question, but I’ve been thinking about the perils of nostalgia. I don’t want to exist in the places that made me comfortable. 

My favorite bands were Pixies, Spoon, Sleater-Kinney and The National. I don’t identify with them anymore. Their new stuff doesn’t speak to me. They changed. I changed. Good. 

I don’t want a reboot of Ghostbusters with kid actors (it’s coming), Toy Story 12, or a re-heated Top Gun. I want new stories in different universes. Put Star Wars to bed. 

[RELATED: Predictions for rest of Warriors season]

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Monte Poole for joining Logan and me on the Runnin’ Plays podcast for a look back at the Warriors’ decade, one of the most decorated in sports. 

Monte is like a history professor in this episode. He filled in some stuff I didn’t know about the Mark Jackson years, which set up the Warriors’ championships. This is one of those conversations where I caught myself listening for 40 minutes without checking the time. 

Tune in to the episode here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your pods.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.