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Best case/worst case: Alen Smailagic

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Will we see anything from the young center this year?

2019-20 Golden State Warriors Media Day Photo by Jack Arent /NBAE via Getty Images

With the NBA season starting this week, we’re running through mini previews of the Golden State Warriors’ 16 players, focusing on what their best and worst case scenario is for the upcoming year. Next up is rookie Alen Smailagić. You can check out the other best case/worst case articles below:

Ky Bowman
Alec Burks
Willie Cauley-Stein
Marquese Chriss
Stephen Curry
Jacob Evans III
Draymond Green
Damion Lee
Kevon Looney
Eric Paschall
Jordan Poole
Glenn Robinson III
D’Angelo Russell

Preseason stats

Did not play

2018-19 stats (Santa Cruz Warriors)

47 games, 9.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game

57.7% 2FG, 24.4% 3FG, 65.9% FT, 55.9% true-shooting

Role on the 2019-20 Warriors

Of the 16 players on the Warriors roster, only Ky Bowman projects to have a smaller role than Alen Smailagić. That’s not an indictment of Smailagić - it’s just the reality of being a rookie center who just turned 19.

Smailagić will likely spend much of the year where he was last year, with the G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors. But if injuries continue to plague the Warriors center position - neither Kevon Looney nor Willie Cauley-Stein played in any preseason games - then we may see him get a few chances at the NBA level.

Best case scenario

Smailagić has all kinds of potential, and it’s fair to expect that potential to be actualized eventually. It’s unlikely to happen this year, but it certainly could.

There’s a lot of defensive ability in Smailagić, and his frame is pretty NBA-ready for someone his age. His jump shot has all kinds of potential, even though his three-point numbers haven’t been good to this point.

If he starts tearing up the G League with exceptional defense and an inside-out offensive game, he’ll earn a role on the Warriors far sooner than most expect.

Worst case scenario

The worst case scenario for Smailagić doesn’t really impact the 2019-20 team. He figures to not get many, if any meaningful NBA minutes this season, so even if he’s horrible, that won’t really affect the win total.

But the Warriors signed Smailagić to a four-year contract, with the first two years guaranteed. They’re banking on him developing into a rotation player, and for good reason.

If his development stalls out this year, and he has a mediocre season in the G League, the Dubs won’t be too excited about him going forward.