Warriors: It’s Smiley Time — Why Alen Smailagic should see his role expand

Warriors, Alen Smailagic (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Warriors, Alen Smailagic (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With the Golden State Warriors’ roster in flux following the trade deadline, the time is now for rookie Alen Smailagic to get his feet wet with the big league club.

Alen Smailagic has seen action in only nine games thus far in his rookie campaign with the Golden State Warriors. That was by design, as head coach Steve Kerr stated in December that Smailagic would spend most of the year with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G League.

With the team trading Omari Spellman, one of their first bigs off the bench, to the Minnesota Timberwolves, there is a role that needs to be filled, and it’s one that Smailagic himself could be capable of filling.

Spellman was a consistent source of energy whenever he was on the floor, and his accuracy as a three-point shooter provided spacing for the Warriors to operate on offense.

Now in his second season with Santa Cruz, Smailagic has improved across the board, nearly doubling his scoring average from 9.1 last season to 16.3 this season, and also improving his three-point percentage from 24.4 percent to a respectable 35.1 percent.

In his brief appearances at the NBA level this season, he has made an impact through sheer effort and hustle, while freely admitting that he still has a lot to learn.

At just 19 years of age, Smailagic is far from a finished product and is still a bit rough around the edges, but there is no better time than the present to get him some seasoning.

With Kevon Looney still working his way back from injury, playing him more than his body can handle during a lost season would be foolish, especially with his extensive injury history. Giving Smailagic an extended look would benefit both him and the team in the long run.

While Smailagic’s development has come along nicely due to getting minutes in Santa Cruz that would not have been afforded to him in San Francisco, the strides his game could make seeing extended minutes against NBA competition would be invaluable for his long-term growth as a player.

Seeing as the team currently has the worst record in the league, they truly have nothing to lose by running him out there.

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This is the ideal situation for not only Smailagic, but all the Warriors’ young prospects to make mistakes and fine-tune their games in order to convince the front office that they can be a part of the future of the franchise going forward.