Warriors recall Alen Smailagic; will he have chance to crack rotation?

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Drew Shiller
·2 min read
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Can Smailagic crack Warriors rotation after being called up? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors recalled Alen Smailagic from their G League affiliate, the team announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 big man has yet to appear in an NBA game this season, as he underwent surgery Jan. 4 to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee.

Smailagic appeared in 10 of the Santa Cruz Warriors' 15 regular-season games in the Orlando bubble, averaging just 17 minutes because of a playing-time restriction.

But the caution essentially disappeared in the Sea Dubs' two playoff games, as the man they call "Smiley" produced much more as his role expanded:

-12 points (4-for-8 from the field), nine rebounds, three assists and one steal in 25 minutes vs. the Rio Grande Valley Vipers

-17 points (6-for-9 from the field, 2-for-4 on 3s), eight rebounds, three assists and one block in 30 minutes vs. the Lakeland Magic

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Now the question becomes -- will he be a consistent rotation player for Golden State in the second half of the season?

The most likely answer is "no" because there just aren't enough minutes to go around. That, and Smailagic needs to prove he deserves that opportunity.

But it's very safe to assume there will be some nights when Steve Kerr gives the No. 39 overall pick from the 2019 draft a chance to make things happen.

“[Smailagic] has to have a picture in his mind of how he can fit in the NBA, and I think that’s as a pick-and-pop shooter” Kerr said back in early December. “He’s gotta understand his responsibilities as a defensive player, whether he’s at the 4 or the 5.

"But it’s a pretty steep learning curve at the NBA level and we’re trying to help him through that process.”

RELATED: Draymond critiques Wiseman, says he'll be 'force' eventually

The Warriors also are trying to help James Wiseman develop at an expedited pace, while trying to win as many games as possible. So again, Smailagic probably will get a good number of DNPs moving forward.

But it wouldn't hurt to see the Serbian native get some extended action at times because the franchise this summer will need to make a decision on his contract for next season.

So stay tuned to see how it unfolds, and perhaps Kerr will provide a little more clarity on the plan for Smailagic if he is asked about him either before or after the Warriors' game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

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