Alen Smailagic took a different path to the NBA, deciding to play last season in the G-League at age 18. The 6’10” Serbian center held his own and impressed the Warriors enough that they traded up to No. 39 in the second round to pick him.
Smailagic played in the Las Vegas Summer League for the Warriors, a venue where guys are fighting for jobs and there can be a lot of trash talk, but it’s nothing like what he got last year from DeMarcus Cousins. Ethan Strauss at The Athletic told a great story.
He’s still learning new terms. “Virgin” was a word introduced to him by DeMarcus Cousins a few months ago. The lumbering veteran big man went down to Santa Cruz on a rehab assignment last season and relentlessly teased the eager kid in trash-talk sessions. Smailagić recounts Cousins repeatedly yelling, “Don’t play with us, you’re probably a virgin!” Smailagić would shoot back, “I’ll show you,” perhaps not completely understanding the context of the insult.
“It was great,” Smailagić said of his time trying to prove himself to Cousins.
Being a virgin shouldn’t be an insult, but that’s the NBA locker room culture (right or wrong).
Smailagic is working to prove himself, but his time in Las Vegas showed there is still a lot of development to do. The raw potential is there, but Smailagic averaged 8.5 points per game on 41 percent shooting, with half a blocked shot. He’s a guy who needs more development and likely will spend a chunk of time back in Santa Cruz next season.
However, first he will be in training camp for the Warriors, and they play Cousins and the Lakers four times in the preseason. Maybe we will get some more trash talk.