Drafted by: Orlando Magic, No. 12 overall
Traded to: Philadelphia 76ers for Elfrid Payton, a 2015 second-round pick and a 2017 first-round pick
Height/Weight: 6'10", 223 lbs
Age: 20 years old
Projected NBA Position: Small Forward/Power Forward
Pro Comparison: Toni Kukoc
One of the most productive players overseas, Dario Saric blew up for Cibona in the Adriatic League, which he led in scoring and rebounding before winning MVP of the finals.
Saric has been on the first-round radar for a few years now, but his explosion in 2013-14 really generated significant buzz. Whether he comes over right away or remains overseas for a year or two, Saric's NBA future looks awfully bright.
Saric's blend of 6'10" size and wing-like foot speed spells offensive mismatch in the pros. He's not explosive or overly athletic, but he's too agile and shifty for guys his size.
Saric does lack strength and length, which for the most part limits his defensive potential. He might have a tough time banging down low with bulkier bigs, and he could struggle against quicker and more explosive wings on the perimeter.
However, his physical tools should work just fine on offense, where he's got the size to play the 4 and the mobility to play the wing.
There isn't a spot on the floor Saric can't operate from. With power forward size, he can handle the ball and create from the perimeter, either as a scorer or setup man off the dribble. Saric can blow by most 4s he sees in Europe, as he can play low to the ground with the ball in his hands.
Though more of a face-up threat than a back-to-the-basket post player, Saric can still finish plays or even facilitate from the paint, where he's a crafty scorer and passer.
He's extremely skilled for a guy his size, with a skill set you typically see from a small forward. Saric can create his own shot on the perimeter, whether he's getting into the lane or separating for a balanced jumper on the perimeter.
His three-point shooting numbers are somewhat erratic, but he's still a threat whenever he lets it go. At this point, Saric is a capable shooter who's comfortable releasing off the catch or the dribble.
Off the ball, he moves well and positions himself to make plays off different cuts, flashes, slips and pop-outs.
Rebounding, Motor, Instincts
Saric is a constant presence on the boards despite lacking the strength or bulk of your typical double-double machine. He's active and aggressive around loose balls, where he's got a terrific nose and unteachable instincts.
Saric plays hard, and he plays with fire. But he also just has a natural feel for the game. He gets to his spots on the floor and knows what plays to make.
Worst comes to worst, we're looking at a jack-of-all-trades glue guy who makes plays at the offensive end.
The biggest concern with Saric is at the defensive end, where he lacks lateral quickness for the perimeter and strength down low. Though he's versatile on offense, some might call him a tweener on defense. Coaches will want to know if he can guard tough NBA 4s or athletic NBA wings.
Shooting will also play a major role in determining just how dangerous Saric can become. He's not much of a post player, so he's going to need that jumper to stretch the floor, as well as give him another weapon to threaten the defense with as a scorer.
If Saric chooses to come over right away, it could take him a year or two to adjust to the new size and speed of the NBA game.
However, his basketball instincts should help speed up the transition process. He'll start off as a role player until he gets his bearings.
Without standout athleticism or defensive potential, Saric projects more as a high-end role player. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see him evolve into an NBA starter, given his unique and diverse offensive game.
If Saric can improve that jumper and turn it into a strength, as well as prove he can play on the NBA's physical interior, his versatility should allow him to make a nice, long living as an NBA pro.
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