It appears as if the 2013 NBA draft class has taken another punch to the gut, with news that Croatian star Dario Saric will be withdrawing his name.
Michael McNamara of Bournonstreetshots.com received confirmation from Saric's agent that Saric, projected by some as a potential lottery pick, indeed will be pulling out.
The whole story is bizarre. Saric initially expressed his desire to stay in Europe, and then quickly reversed path and entered his name. Now, with his stock at an all-time high after winning MVP of his league final, he's deciding that the NBA could wait another year.
This really stinks for a couple of teams, even the ones who had no interest in Saric at all. Another player down just shrinks the size of the pool to choose from.
New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps was at Saric's final game when he went for 19 points and 12 boards. The Pelicans pick at No. 6 in the lottery.
Had they taken Saric No. 6, that would have likely left Trey Burke for Sacramento at No. 7 (if Orlando passes at No. 2). Now, there's a good chance that the Pelicans redirect their attention back to Burke and steal him from the Kings.
This type of thing can happen at multiple spots on the board when a potential lottery pick drops out.
A lot of NBA execs bummed after Saric news. Several told me they had him in their Top 5 or Top 7.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 6, 2013
Saric's decision to withdraw might affect the Dallas Mavericks' draft plans. They had been rumored (via Chad Ford, ESPN) to be shopping the pick or use it to draft and stash, though with Saric out of the picture the chances of a trade might have just increased.
Other than New Orleans and Dallas, Ford had named Philadelphia and Portland (subscription required) as teams with interest.
Whoever drafted Saric probably wasn't going to get immediate production, anyway. At only 19 years old, he's still a few years away from getting regular NBA minutes. This might have had an impact on his decision to stay put in Europe, where he's a star on his team instead of the last man off the bench.
Is Dario Saric worth a lottery pick?
Unless Saric makes substantial progress in his development, mainly creating and making his own shot along with playing some defense, his stock is likely to remain the same in 2014. There are four guys you can pretty much lock in to go ahead of him in Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker.
With those four potential prizes, Saric wouldn't have been missed next year. It's this year the NBA draft really needs his presence.
Teams will continue exploring the trade market and conducting evaluations. Only they'll have to cross another name off their list of potential draft-day targets.