Name: Dario Saric
Position: Small Forward
Height: 6’10″ (with shoes)
Weight: 223 pounds
Despite being just 20 years old, Saric’s natural feel for the game is evident. He’s a gifted passer that looks strong making plays in transition. He has great height, particularly for a small forward, where he’ll most likely play in the NBA. He looks comfortable taking the ball off-the-dribble to the basket, and isn’t limited to just one hand. Saric’s court vision is such that he can make pinpoint passes either on the move or while stationary. He’s primarily played power forward in Europe, so he was able to take advantage of his less athletic opponents on the perimeter and get by them with the dribble fairly easily. He’s not an explosive athlete, but he’s slippery enough to slither his way through the paint and create easy opportunities for himself. A bit like Manu Ginobili, if Manu Ginobili were 6’10″. His back-to-the-basket game isn’t great, but he’s skilled enough to finish with a little hook shot with either hand. He’s not an elite outside shooter by any means, but his outside shooting percentages have improved in the last year. Saric is more dangerous as a spot-up shooter than he is trying to create his own jumper using the dribble.
He’s not a shutdown defender, but he also isn’t a sieve. The effort seems to be there, but he’s not really long enough to really do much disrupting on defense.
Saric doesn’t have much problem finishing at the rim against the Euro competition, though he’ll run into more shot-blocking types in the NBA, which could present a problem. There isn’t much above-the-rim action happening, so he’ll have to rely on angles and deception more if he wants to be an effective finisher inside. He also doesn’t really have the strength to guard opposing bigs down low, and will probably struggle against the more physical opponents. He’s a decent rebounder, though you’d probably prefer a player of his size to be better in that area. He also isn’t going to be doing much shot-blocking of his own. He lacks the lateral quickness to stay in front of smaller wings, and the strength to bang with bigs down low. Defense will probably be his biggest adjustment when he comes to the NBA.
Speaking of that, there’s also the matter of when, exactly, Saric will actually be coming to the NBA. He obviously entered the draft, though both his father and his agent have said that it may be in his best interests to stay in Europe for a couple more years. Will a team be willing to use a valuable lottery pick this season on a player that they may not see right away?
There’s plenty of reason for optimism with Saric, those some of his red flags are similar to the red flags we’ve seen with other Europeans set to come to the NBA. Is he too soft to succeed in the league? Will he accept a lesser role at first, or will he expect to be a go-to guy upon arrival? We’ve seen plenty of international players come to the league, only to leave a short time thereafter because their respective situations weren’t to their liking. Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro are easy examples. Saric has to be willing to continue to learn and to grow, though he is already quite polished for a player his age. He has a lot of Chandler Parsons in him, though he isn’t nearly as athletic. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him fall a bit in the draft, if for no other reason than the likelihood he decides to stick around Europe for a few more seasons.