Dario Saric proving his value with 76ers

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Dario Saric was expected to hold a smaller role with the team following the Markelle Fultz selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Dario Saric has had a larger role with the Philadelphia 76ers over the last few months due to Markelle Fultz being sidelined with shoulder issues, as well as Joel Embiid not playing on a daily basis due to back soreness and his new hand injury. Because of those injuries, Saric has gotten his chance to shine.

Saric has performed at a high level in a recent string of games. So far this season, “Super Dario” is averaging 13.6 points to go along with seven rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field, including 36.6 percent from 3-point range. Those are solid numbers coming off a good rookie campaign where he landed himself as the runner up to Malcolm Brogdon for Rookie of the Year honors.

However, this article came to mind due to Saric’s fantastic run of play as of late. Over the last three games, Saric has been leading the team to road victories. He’s averaging approximately 24 points to go along with seven rebounds per game, and he’s making two out of every 3-three point shots he attempts.

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Realistically, Saric won’t keep up this great run of play, but he can certainly ride this momentum and confidence to more success down the road. Being that this is only his second season, he still has a lot of time to grow and understand his game as well as the NBA style of play. Last year, it was evident that Saric wouldn’t be ready immediately to make a big impact in the NBA, but that wasn’t his fault. Euro style basketball is very different than NBA basketball, but it appears as though Saric is finally ready to enhance his NBA game by improving his efficiency and physicality.

What’s Saric’s Potential Role?

It may not be a surprise to many of you that I’m a big Dario Saric fan, but before that, I’m a fan of the 76ers. I believe Saric getting a larger role is a good decision for Brett Brown to make. Yes, he’s been playing Saric more on certain nights where he doesn’t have much of a choice, but this part of the article is geared towards when Fultz gets back, and when, if ever, Embiid is healthy enough to play every night. Saric has shown great strides this season towards being a future star in this league. Saric’s numbers show progress being made this season, but there’s more to it than that.

If you closely follow the Sixers, then you’ll see the way Saric leads the team verbally when he’s on the court and Embiid isn’t. Even when Embiid is out there, Saric still leads by example. Crashing the boards on both ends, making hustle plays left and right, and being a team player by making the extra pass are a few examples of his leadership qualities. Those leadership qualities are something that really can’t be taught, and the Sixers are extremely lucky that Saric, Simmons, and Embiid possess great leadership abilities in different ways.

Is Saric a Cornerstone Piece?

When Fultz was drafted No. 1 overall in last year’s draft, there was all talk about the Sixers new “Big Three” of Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz. Embiid did his best to include Saric in the core players group by nicknaming them the “FEDS” for Fultz, Embiid, Dario, and Simmons. However, everyone pretty much dismissed the reason behind the nickname because there wasn’t a lot of belief in Saric becoming a cornerstone piece for the future.

Due to his recent play, many fans have been talking about Saric being a future star, but this shouldn’t be anything new. He’s always played with passion and heart every night, which is something that’s increasingly rare in today’s NBA. Now that he’s producing at a high level, our attention turns from him being on a future championship Sixers roster to being whether he will be a cornerstone piece for said roster.

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I think the answer is yes. Saric is a classic “glue guy” who doesn’t have to score at a high level in order to be a high level contributor. Unselfish play, hustle, and determination to sacrifice himself for the good of the team is extremely value, and that goes for any sport on any level. Those guys come far and few in between, but when you get your hands one you shouldn’t let them go. If Fultz turns out the way we expect, Saric would be a tremendous fourth option.

Overall, Saric brings intangibles to the team that not everyone can bring. He dedicated his recent success to his hard work in practice and the offseason. Every player can say they have a great work ethic, but when Brown backs him up along with his improved play, it goes to show just how much of a hard worker Saric really is. All I can say is that I hope the Sixers realize what they’ve got with Saric before his contract is up and someone else offers him a big contract. After all, he plays the type of basketball that Gregg Popovich loves, and it would be crushing to see him end up on a different team like the San Antonio Spurs if given the opportunity.