Former Golden State Warriors Draymond Green teammate, Alen Smailagic, says he's a completely different person off the court that loves to help people, adding that Warriors superstars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson didn't treat him like a rookie.

Credit: AFP-Scanpix
Credit AFP-Scanpix

So far, Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade forward Alen Smailagic played only for 18 minutes in the series against Real Madrid, yet he did splendidly in such a short time.

He provided Partizan with a couple of crucial bursts, allowing Zeljko Obradovic's squad to build a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

In his debut EuroLeague season, Smailagic averages 5.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 4.8 PIR per game over 27 appearances.

However, his career path is not typical for a young European player, let alone a Serbian.

Smailagic built his resume in the third Serbian basketball division, playing for KK Beko, a small club based in Belgrade. Smailagic played for Beko since he was a 7-year-old while making his debut in the senior team in the 2017-18 campaign.

He played 10 games in the third Serbian basketball division before being selected with a no. 4 pick in the G League Draft.

He played one full season in the G League before signing a 4-year $6.1 million deal with the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2019-20 campaign.

The 22-year-old made 29 appearances with the Warriors, sharing the floor with such greats as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others.

"It was a great time playing with them," Smailagic told BasketNews before Game 2 against Real Madrid. "I learned a lot from them about basketball, about what it's like to live alone. It was my first time living by myself."

"I became a man back there. Everything there was great. I can't say a bad thing about the NBA or Golden State. They were and still are like a family to me," added Partizan forward.

Smailagic tasted his true European basketball experience in the 2021-22 season when he returned to Serbia and signed for Partizan. After competing in the EuroCup for one season, he and the club made another step forward, reaching the EuroLeague.

2-pointers this season

Points made: 20,8
Accuracy: 56,0%
Place in standings: 4
Record max: 29
Record min: 13
Most made 2FGs: Mathias Lessort

Looking back at the last season, most of the Partizan core, including head coach Zeljko Obradovic, remained with the team. So, does Smailagic feel improved since his return from the NBA?

"For sure," Smailagic said with confidence. "I'm the same player as I was back in the day, but, for sure, my mentality and basketball IQ improved, especially working with coach Obradovic. He helped me to understand basketball deeper and wider than when I was younger."

After being asked about the most memorable memory that includes Warriors superstars, Smailagic couldn't think of one story but explained why his experience was so special.

"The best memory is that Draymond, Steph, and others weren't acting with me like I was a rookie," Smailagic revealed. "They respected me because they knew I'm from the Balkans, and I'm one of them. I was not a regular rookie in their eyes."

"They are really nice guys. They don't jump on your back and respect everyone. There were those small things like rookie duties to do, but we didn't even do that," he recalled.

In recent weeks, Green once again was in the spotlight for his shenanigans on the court. During the Western Conference 1st Round Playoff series against the Sacramento Kings, Green stepped on Domantas Sabonis, causing plenty of talks about his behavior.

Green received a 1-game suspension for his action against Sabonis.

It was not the first time Green was involved in similar controversies that began to build his reputation for being a dirty player.

However, Smailagic says that his former teammate is an entirely different person than most of the fans might think.

"Everyone is saying a lot of stuff, but for me, he's like my brother," Smailagic told BasketNews. "I really love him. Whatever he says or does on the court is not the same off the court because he's a really nice and good guy. He loves to help people, talk to young players, and help to develop their game."

As for his return to the NBA, Smailagic doesn't rule it out. However, Partizan also has a special place in his heart.

"For sure," he said after being asked whether he would like to come back to the NBA. "Every young player has a dream of coming back to the NBA. We will see what's going to happen, but I still want to play for Partizan."

Partizan is my main club, I love it. I love the fans, fans love me, and we will see what's going to happen," Smailagic concluded.

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Alen Smailagic

Alen  Smailagic
Team: Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade
Position: PF
Age: 22
Height: 206 cm
Weight: 98 kg
Birth place: Belgrade, Serbia