‘Not-Yet-Elite 11’: Ranking of Philadelphia’s Most Promising Young Talent

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5.) F Dario Saric-76ers 

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Dario Saric (Croatia) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number twelve overall pick to the Orlando Magic in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In his perfect world, 76ers GM Sam Hinkie would prefer that this list be comprised solely of his draft picks. Sometimes life is unfair, Sam. That being said, there is a Sixers flare to the top-five.  Dario Saric was acquired via a draft night trade with the Orlando Magic that also brought a first round pick back to Philadelphia in exchange for Elfriid Payton. Heading into the 2014 Draft, Saric was seen as the top international prospect on the board. The Croatian teenager possessed a dazzling offensive game that marveled those who watched. Even without a great jump shot, Saric dazzled evaluators with his vision, passing ability, and creativity on the offensive end. Under ideal circumstances, he probably would have been selected much higher. There was, however, a caveat.

Saric plays for the Turkish professional team Anadolu Efes. His contract stipulates that he would have been unable to get out of his deal for at least two full seasons before whichever team drafted him could buy him out. Considering there weren’t too many teams ready to wait that long for a lottery pick to make an impact on the team, Saric tumbled a bit before going off the board to Orlando. The Sixers, more than happy to wait out a lottery pick, executed the trade to acquire Saric and started yet another patient process with a player they expect to serve a key role when he does arrive in America.  In the wonderful modern world of accessibility, Saric’s games with both Efes and the Croatian national team are accessible via stream more often than not. The Sixers’ digital media team and news department has done exceptional work providing highlights of Saric over the course of his year.

Saric was named FIBA’s European Young Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. He is capable of impacting the game in so many ways and, projecting forward, is as offensively-geared a player as there is in the Sixers organization. With the rise of the ‘point forward’ becoming a trend in the NBA, one would have to figure that Brett Brown and his staff have already envisioned wrinkles in their sets that involve Saric as the primary facilitator.

We may not get to see Saric suit up for the Sixers for another year or so, but that does not diminish his value. One would hope that, by the time he does arrive in the United States, the team is prepared to start contending for playoff runs and titles. With another year of seasoning against grown men in the European professional league, Saric should be able to make an immediate impact just like Nikola Miritic did for the Bulls this season. Here’s to hoping that ‘The Homie Dario’ can bring his flavorful game to the NBA and deliver on all the promise that the organization seems to think he can.