Warriors

When Warriors' Smailagic knew he belonged in the NBA

Warriors

When Alen Smailagic took the floor for the Santa Cruz Warriors in November 2018, he became the youngest player in NBA G League history.

Despite being over 6,000 miles away from his home in Serbia, it immediately was very apparent that Smailagic did not lack confidence. He legitimately believes he can't be stopped every time he is on the court. 

During his 2019-20 rookie campaign, was there a specific moment when he knew he belonged in the NBA?

"I felt that when I played against (Giannis) Antetokounmpo and when I scored a couple of points," Smailagic recently said through the Warriors' team Twitter account. "I saw that I could really play on the highest level.

"I showed that I really belong there ... and I feel that way."

The 6-foot-10 forward registered 10 points (4-for-7 FG) against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 8 at Chase Center.

Over 14 appearances last season, Smailagic showed why the Warriors traded two future second-round draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in order to select him with the No. 39 overall pick. 

But he still has a ways to go before he can be counted on to be a consistent rotation player. And Golden State's front office is aware of this.

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"We're really excited about what Smiley could become," executive vice president of basketball operations Kirk Lacob said in mid-August on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast. "Love the guy. He has a lot of work to do. He has gotta fight and claw.

 

"Year 1 happened -- it was a bummer of a year. He got hurt, he was thrust into some positions we weren't originally wanting him to be in. And then it was cut short. You might have seen a lot of Smiley those last 15 (or so) games we had.

"If he's good enough, he's gonna show through and he'll figure it out."

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