Dubs Rookies Ready to Make a Splash
Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic, and Eric Paschall to make their NBA debuts this season
After many new additions to the roster this summer, the Dubs are headed into a new frontier this upcoming season. After veteran standouts came off the bench over the last five seasons, all of which resulted in trips to the NBA Finals, this year’s squad will feature more youth. This transition begins with the Dubs’ three draft picks from the 2019 NBA Draft: Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, and Alen Smailagić.
Each of the rookies bring unique skills to the team and they had a chance to put those on display during Summer League. Now with the season approaching, they will need to take that experience and use it to prepare for their first seasons in the NBA.
The 28th overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft got hot in Vegas, bouncing back from a cold-shooting start to the summer in the California Classic (Sacramento) to post back-to-back games of 20-plus points. Poole averaged just over 14 points per game, along with two steals per game over his final four games in Las Vegas. During this scoring outburst, the former Michigan Wolverine drove to the hoop more, with the the end result being 15 made free-throws on 19 trips to the line, both of which led the team in that span.
Poole is not just a scorer, but a deep-three threat that could add to the Dubs’ well-known three-point artistry. Poole averaged 37 percent from beyond the arc over his two years in college, including 2.0 treys made per game in his sophomore year. His college coach John Beilein, now head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, tweeted after the announcement of Poole’s selection that the Warriors will have a “’Poole Party’ with the Splash Brothers,” or perhaps a new “Splash Nephew” in the family.
To put it simply: Poole gets buckets.
While in Michigan, Poole’s teammates gave him the nickname “The Microwave.” The reason? “I got it freshmen year at college… I can just heat up quick. Usually I’m just looking for a bucket right away.”
Though you would think the rookie may be worried about the transition to the NBA affecting his scoring, Poole sees this as an opportunity for his game: “The NBA, it’s a big rhythm game. You get a lot of good looks, a lot of open looks, so if you can get one going early, it’s a huge game changer.”
And besides scoring, he is good at finding his teammates, too.
Though his Summer League was cut short due to a nagging injury sustained in the Dubs’ first game in Las Vegas, Paschall provided an impact on both sides of the court in his three games. He demonstrated a knack to create his own shot with drives to the rim, finishing at 55 percent on shooting for the summer, including 18 points in the second game of the California Classic to lead all Dubs scorers.
But just because his Summer League came to a halt does not mean Paschall has stopped preparing for the season. In fact, one of his practices in his hometown of New York came against one well-known hooper: musical artist J. Cole, Paschall’s “favorite rapper” and past-participant in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
After playing a full four years in college, Pashcall enters next season among the most seasoned of the NBA rookies. Assistant coach Mike Brown has watched the forward and said of Paschall: “I love him because he’s gritty, he’s grimy, he’s got great feet. He’s going to be able to defend multiple positions. He’s going to help us offensively do some things at that power forward spot… he looks like he’s a little bit more ready to step out on the floor.”
But it is not just scouts and coaches who know what Paschall is ready to contribute at the NBA level: long-time friend and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said “he brings so much to a team that’s ready to play, like ready to compete now.”
Though the youngest player on the Dubs’ roster at just 19 years old, Alen Smailagić already has some professional experience under his belt. He played in the Serbian U19 League where he averaged 21.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game and then was selected fourth overall by the Santa Cruz Warriors in last year’s G League draft.
Aaron Miles, who led Santa Cruz as the team’s head coach last year and will continue to work with Smailagić after being promoted to Golden State’s staff, praised the young talent on his abilities and work ethic with the Sea Dubs: “From our first practice, I knew we had an NBA player at that moment. He’s young and he works hard.”
The Dubs have already watched him develop for a year in the G League, and that was enough to warrant a draft night trade to acquire his rights from the New Orleans Pelicans.
During Summer League, Smailagić displayed extreme tenacity when working in and around the hoop. The center also displayed confidence in his three-point shot, making four treys over seven games.
But perhaps the 18-year-old’s most attractive skill stemmed from his hunger and willingness to compete: Smailagić had several emphatic dunks and finishes after finding his way to the bucket against opponents, while also fighting for any rebound that came his way.
With the team now featuring a younger roster than recent Warriors teams, the Dubs rookie trio will have an opportunity to make an impact at the pro level. As Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel Larry Harris said, “They’re going to get a chance to play.”
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