Beachcombings: Sea Dubs Taking on Even More of a Golden State Warriors Look and Feel
Santa Cruz Warriors 6-1 with Bowman; Evans on Assignment from GSW
Throughout the season, Santa Cruz Warriors play-by-play announcer Kevin Danna and the warriors.com staff are teaming up to provide the latest on all things Santa Cruz Warriors and G League:
Preparing for a Second Half Push
The Santa Cruz Warriors are just past the midway point of the 2019-20 season, standing at 15-11 after winning nine of their last 12 games. Sixteen of the team’s 24 remaining games are home matchups, including the March 14 game at Chase Center. Tied for first place in their division, the Sea Dubs are five games out of first place in the Western Conference and will need to finish the season strong if they want to maintain their current position and host a first round playoff matchup. A lot can happen over the next two months, especially in the unpredictable environment that is the G League, but one can say with near absolute certainty that a lot of meaningful basketball will be played in Surf City in the coming weeks, and that includes the current six-game homestand.
For whatever reason, the home confines haven’t been all that friendly for the Sea Dubs this season. The squad is just 4-6 at home this season, but have gone 11-5 on the road. Scheduling challenges, tired legs, lack of focus; whatever it is, the Santa Cruz Warriors just haven’t gotten the job done at home so far. At the same time, they’ve had just 10 home games this season and will certainly have a chance to get that home court advantage back during a home-heavy closing stretch of the season.
And for what it’s worth, that 11-5 road record shouldn’t be dismissed. That’s pretty impressive for any professional team, especially one who sees so much roster turnover over the course of a season. Or, as Sea Dubs broadcaster Kevin Danna put it, “Down the stretch of close games on the road, this team is money.”
Golden State Players Playing in Santa Cruz
Synergy between the Golden State and Santa Cruz Warriors has always been intentional, but this year more than any other since the G League squad relocated to Santa Cruz in 2012, the developmental nature of the G League has been on full display. Three Warriors players – Alen Smailagic, Jordan Poole and Ky Bowman – have played for the Sea Dubs this season, and a fourth, Jacob Evans, will take the floor tonight in Santa Cruz.
Alen Smailagic – Already a fan favorite in both the Golden State and Santa Cruz versions of Dub Nation, the 19-year-old forward has only had a chance to play in one game since being transferred to Santa Cruz on Jan. 17, as the Sea Dubs are ending a five-day game-less drought tonight. But in that one game, he was certainly a difference maker, putting up 20 points and seven boards on 8-for-13 shooting. The 2019 second round draft selection plays without fear and has averaged 17.1 points in under 26 minutes a game with the Sea Dubs. After playing nine games with the NBA Dubs, Smailagic figures to get much more playing time in Santa Cruz.
Jordan Poole – It was a brief stint for Poole in the G League, but boy was it a meaningful one. After starting the season off slow and struggling to find his shot with Golden State, the Dubs’ 2019 first round draft selection played three games with Santa Cruz and instantly made a contribution. He keyed a fourth quarter comeback with some big shots in his first game with the Sea Dubs and averaged 26 points a game over three games in the G League. That small sample size certainly made the difference when he re-joined the Golden State Warriors, recently going four straight games with double digit scoring efforts, including a 21-point game in the Dubs’ win over Orlando on Saturday.
Ky Bowman – If there is one stat that is indicative of the two-way player’s time with the Sea Dubs, it’s this: The Santa Cruz Warriors are 6-1 when Bowman plays for them. Bowman has brought the same energy and effort that he played with in Golden State to Santa Cruz, averaging 16.3 points, 5.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds a game. His 3-point shot has been a little inconsistent, but he did go 3-for-5 from distance in a recent game, which is a good sign for the young guard.
Jacob Evans – The second-year pro spent his rookie season between Golden State and Santa Cruz, and tonight will mark his season debut with the Sea Dubs. This season, Evans has been slowed down by injuries, most recently suffering a concussion and broken nose in the Jan. 14 game against Dallas. He played in one game with Golden State since that injury, so this G League assignment could give him a chance to get some extended playing time, even if it’s just for a few games. A short stint in Santa Cruz worked wonders for Poole, here’s hoping that can happen again with Evans.
The Continuing Growth of the G League
The G League has proven that it’s much more than a place for a young player who is not getting any burn at the NBA level some playing time. By the same token, a G League assignment for an NBA player isn’t necessarily a demotion, rather it is an opportunity for development that can lead to meaningful contributions for their parent NBA club. This year’s Warriors have multiple examples of that. Now, it’s not unusual for injured NBA stars to practice with a G League team before returning to the NBA – see DeMarcus Cousins last year with Santa Cruz or more recently Victor Oladipo with Fort Wayne, perhaps hinting at a day in the not-so-distant future that an NBA player working his way back from injury plays his first game(s) in the G League.
Another sign of G League growth? The league is expanding to Mexico. Capitanes, a pro team out of Mexico City, will compete in the G League starting in the 2020-21 season, bringing the G League to 29 teams. One of the key features of the G League is to be a testing environment for the NBA, and depending how things go with Captanes could potentially influence NBA expansion in Mexico.
A Few More Notes
Player movement is part of the cultural fabric of the G League. Devyn Marble, who played with Golden State during the preseason, was a steady contributor for the Santa Cruz Warriors to start the season but has since signed a contract to play professionally in Italy. That follows Oakland native Jared Cunningham’s lead, who earlier this season signed with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chine Basketball Association. The international departures, along with Golden State players coming in and out of Santa Cruz, has left the Sea Dubs with as few as nine players for some games, something those following Golden State have become all too familiar with.
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