Philadelphia 76ers: Summing Up the Struggling Saric

The NBA is tough on rookies, particularly those who fly thousands of miles into lofty expectations. Dario Saric is a rookie, and perhaps expectations were unrealistic

Philadelphia 76ers fans entered this season optimistically in anticipation of the rookie campaign for Croatia’s Dario Saric. Saric is a heady European talent that has experience in more than one position. The hope was that he would bring this versatility to the Sixers.

Saric is averaging just under 10 points per game and just under 6 rebounds per game. These stats do not exactly jump out at you, nor are they that bad considering his minutes. But one things seems apparent; Saric might not be the talent we hoped, even with his flashes of brilliance.

Before the season started I thought Saric could compensate his lack of athleticism with intangibles but I was wrong. It might be that Saric lacks the baseline leaping ability and foot speed to even implement intangibles.

Asked To Do Too Much?

In Saric’s defense, the absence of Ben Simmons coupled with three injured big men has required him to defend either small guards with entirely too much quickness or centers with far too much strength and size. Saric simply can’t guard NBA players yet. He is a small forward without a position at the moment in a league where positions are extremely important.

The NBA has role players, but in the NBA to be an effective role player you need to be a master of a trade. You need to be strong if you are not fast. You need to be quick if you are not smart. At time, Saric struggles to find his physical/intangible niche.

Offensively, Saric is also astonishingly behind. His jump shooting is inaccurate and when he puts the ball on the floor he is swarmed and appears to be a deer in headlights. In tonight’s game vs. Washington for instance, he could only labor to get a clean look after creating an offensive foul while arm barring the defense.

No Wizard Against The Wizards

Furthermore, his shooting in the game was below average, roughly 38 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three-point range.This needs to improve obviously.

It’s gotten to the point that I fear even Brett Brown, an excellent coach, is oversimplifying the obvious chemistry problems plaguing the team. Here is what Coach Brown said about the second unit:

“It’s even distribution. The symmetry of how you play doesn’t change,” Brown said. “You can go Jo and Nerlens, you’ve got a rim protector. You go Ersan and Dario, you’ve got a stretch four. T.J. and Sergio are different, but the wings do some things the same. There’s a symmetry to our purpose and our structure. I think that tight rotation, it certainly is easier to coach and play.”

This might be overly generous on Brown’s part. Saric, to his credit, plays through pain and looks like a hard worker. He also played well vs. the Hornets in a recent outing and shot the ball well, finding his stroke.

He is only 22 years old, so the future hopefully looks brighter, but Super Dario will need to become a master shooter to excel in the league.

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