Philadelphia 76ers: The Homie don’t play that much in Minnesota

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Dario Saric is 10 games into his post-Philadelphia 76ers career, but he’s yet to break into the Timberwolves starting five. Why won’t Thibs let The Homie play?

Man, what is Tom Thibodeau doing with Dario Saric?

Sure, the Timberwolves have been playing great since jettisoning Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers in a move that also involved Justin Patton, Jerryd Bayless, and ‘The Defensive Man on Fire’ Robert Covington, but after averaging almost 31 minutes and 8.4 points per game with his former club, Saric has effectively become an afterthought in Minnesota.

They’re even making The Homie where number 36, a decidedly non-basketball number.

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But what gives? Why trade for a versatile point forward capable of filling all sorts of different roles across offense and trap him on the bench?

Unfortunately for Saric, he may have been traded into an incredibly unfortunate situation for his particular style of play.

On paper, it seemed like Saric would have been a perfect fit alongside the Wolves current corp, where he could finally consistently roam in the paint, but so far this season, it’s been Covington, not The Homie who’s logged 10-straight starts alongside Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt, pushing Saric into the first-forward-off-the-bench role behind ex-Bulls big Taj Gibson.

No offense to Gibson, as he’s one of the best throwback power forwards still rockin’ in the league right now, but should he really be starting over a player like Saric?

On most teams, save maybe the Memphis Grizzlies, the answer would be no, but in Thibsland, things don’t always make perfect sense on paper.

So far this season, Thibs has played his starters an average of 32.6 minutes a night, a notch higher than Brett Brown‘s average of 30.7. While this hasn’t necessarily been a problem so far, as the team is 8-3 post-Butler, it doesn’t leave too much time for creative sets, and the incorporation of reserve players save Derrick Rose into their offensive scheme.

Furthermore, even though Saric does provide some substantial versatility on the court, at both ends of the court, maybe it’s not the kind of versatility Thibs wants from his starting power forward?

Much like how Coach Brown will deploy creative defensive set to ‘hide’ Ben Simmons defensively when facing off against one of the more explosive guards in the league, Minnesota often tasks Gibson, a mountain of a man at 6-foot-9, 232 pounds with banging in the paint on defense to keep KAT fresh on offense

Though he can play either forward position with ease, but Saric is just too undersized to be a capable defensive center.

Unfortunately for Saric, it would appear that he’s landed in the worst possible situation to highlight his skill set and optimize his playing time in this the final year of his rookie deal.

Exiled to a team whose coach doesn’t like to play deep into their bench, in the scheme that highlights almost the antithesis of his playing style, it seems almost impossible to imagine Saric earning a big money, long-term deal was the Timberwolves past the season.

Will some team sign the uniquely talented 6-foot-9 point forward? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind that Sixers bringing back their former forward after his six month sabbatical in the Midwest, as he could be a seriously dangerous isoball scorer off the bench, but on a long-term deal? That seems almost impossible.

Well, technically nothing is impossible, as Evan Turner did receive a four-year, $70 million deal that even his own mama thought was a mistake, but still, unless someone wants to bet big money on Saric’s upside, he seems like a prime candidate for a one-year prove-it deal, where his blue collared commitment to doing the dirty work could be more thoroughly appreciate it.

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While Dario Saric’s work ethic may be the personification of a Tom Thibodeau player, he’s simply a bad on-court fit for what his team is trying to do, and barring a change in coaching or playing style, that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.