Shortly after he heard his name called on the night of the 2014 NBA Draft, new Philadelphia draft choice Dario Saric sat down with NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg for a short interview. Greenberg got directly to the point before their talk came to an end.
“NBA fans don’t want to wait any longer — two years, you promise you’ll be here?”
Saric was similarly to the point with his response.
“Yeah, I promise. For sure, I’ll be here.”
To Saric, that promise meant everything. He never stopped saying he’d come to America to play in the NBA in two years, even as the Sixers faced near constant criticism over that time and an organizational shakeup that saw the man who had drafted him ousted from the team.
Saric, a Croatian power forward, signed his rookie contract and will officially be a member of the Sixers next season. He will join a backcourt logjam that has players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor all fighting for time.
Besides obvious concerns about playing time, Saric’s decision potentially presents pivotal long-term financial implications for his career. Signing his contract this season, Saric is locked in to the rookie scale deal that would have applied to him if he had signed in 2014 (with salary figures adjusted for the rising cap). If he had delayed his NBA career just one more year, he would have been open to signing a more lucrative deal outside of the rookie scale. A conservative estimate says that this will cost Saric at least ten million dollars over the next four years.
But luckily for the Sixers, Saric’s word is his bond. Despite the obvious reasons to delay joining the team, he’s here, and he’s ready to make an impact on the court.
Standing six feet, 10 inches tall, Saric possesses a unique passing and playmaking ability that is rare among players of his size. His highlight reels are filled with eye-popping passes and impressive off-the-dribble moves that are dazzling. He’s not the quickest defender and occasionally gets caught ball watching, but has a high motor and consistently gives his all on both ends of the floor.
Most importantly, Saric is developing a jump shot, which could both allow him to make a huge leap as a player and fit in with the unique players the Sixers will look to build around. Last season, Saric shot around 30 percent from three point range with his Turkish club Anadolu Efes, which raised red flags about his fit on the team and ability to make a real impact against higher level competition. This season however, he’s taking more threes and hitting over 40 percent of them. The European three-point line is shorter than NBA, but that’s still significant and important.
How should Philadelphia feel about him? Well, his name is Dario. He’s nicknamed “The Homie.” He speaks with an accent. He has a goofy moustache.
During the same NBA TV where he made the promise he felt so obligated to keep, Greenberg also asked him about the effort he gives during games.
“I always give 100 percent because basketball is love and you must do it 100 percent.”
Philadelphia is going to love him.