Smiley has best game of G League bubble in Santa Cruz win

Alen Smailagic

Alen Smailagic entered the G League bubble in a make-or-break situation. On Tuesday morning, he had his best game thus far in the Santa Cruz Warriors' 121-91 blowout win over the Erie BayHawks.

Smailagic, 20, scored 13 points (6-for-9 from the field) in 23 minutes. He also had 11 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals, finishing the day plus-12 in plus-minus. His only missed shots came from 3-point range. 

Entering the day, Smailagic was averaging just 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. 

When the Warriors selected the 6-foot-10 big man in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft, they handed him a four-year contract instead of signing him to a two-way deal. The Warriors could waive him after this season without losing any money. They also could let him go this season to sign Juan Toscano-Anderson, who is on a two-way contract, to a guaranteed NBA deal

Simply put, Smailagic has to prove he deserves a NBA contract. So far, that hasn't exactly been the case. He still looks lost at times and makes gaffes like he did Sunday when he was stuffed by the rim on a wild dunk attempt.

Smailagic appeared in 14 games as a rookie in the 2019-20 season. He averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds while playing just 9.9 minutes per game. The Warriors were excited to see what Smailagic could do this year but a knee injury kept him out at the start of the season. He still is a long-term project but must prove himself in a hurry. 

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Former first-round draft pick Jacob Evans led all scorers with 24 points in the 30-point win. He went 9-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 from long distance. 

Jeremy Lin scored nine points and had nine assists in 26 minutes. 

The Santa Cruz Warriors now are 10-3 this season, winning nine games in a row. Tuesday's win clinched a playoff spot for the Sea Dubs.

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