During Alen Smailagic's rookie season with the Warriors, he showed flashes as to why Golden State traded two future second-round draft picks (2021 and 2023) to acquire him.
The No. 39 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game over 14 appearances.
"His best skill right now -- for a young guy, he's not afraid of the game," Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic last week. "He comes into the game and he's turned on. He makes some good plays.
"That was noticeable this year. His confidence, his savvy, whatever you want to call it. It was pretty impressive."
The 19-year-old has the utmost belief in himself, and doesn't shy away from the bright lights.
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Smailagic believes he already belongs and can have a big impact on the game.
This is an important mindset to possess as it can help when things aren't going your way. And the reality is that Smailagic is far from a finished product.
"He has a ways to go," Adams said. "I think he made great strides this year. He would get in the game and the only thing he thought about was how (he was) going to get the ball into the hoop (laughter). He was just really intent on that.
"He began to understand the game in a different way. He began to understand the game the way Steve (Kerr) likes the game to be played. I thought he improved defensively."
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It's possible that the 6-foot-10 Serbian is a consistent rotation player next season. The Warriors would be ecstatic if that comes to fruition.
But he might not have a significant role, and he could end up spending a decent amount of time in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
That is all to-be-determined.
"He's a young developing player," Adams said. "And when that's the case, you can never be surprised when things happen more quickly than you think they should in terms of development, and you can't be disappointed when they don't."
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