Updates from Tuesday, June 24
E. Carchia of Sportando reports Dario Saric to Anadolu Efes is official:
Dario Saric officially signed a 2+1 contract with Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
The Croatian rising star comes from Cibona Zagreb where he has played since the season 2012-2013.
Saric will not go the NBA for the next two years but he will be in this week's NBA Draft.
The landscape of the 2014 NBA draft may have just shifted. Forward Dario Saric—a favorite to be a lottery pick—reportedly has signed a three-year contract with Anadolu Efes, a Turkish professional basketball team based in the City of Istanbul, according to Chad Ford of ESPN:
Breaking: Dario Saric has agreed in principle to a three year deal with Anadolu Efes a source close to Saric told http://t.co/KQ6fwudeVT.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 23, 2014
Ford also addressed the implications this move has on his status in the NBA:
The deal will essentially prohibit Saric from playing in the NBA for a minimum of two years the source told ESPN.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 23, 2014
But just how much will his draft stock be affected? Ford wrote about where he was expected to be taken prior to this announcement:
NBA sources say that Saric's decision to stay in Europe will affect his draft stock. He was getting looks as high as the 76ers at 10, the Nuggets at 11 and the Magic at 12. However, because he's unlikely to come to the NBA for at least two years, those teams are now hesitating to draft him that high.
Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe reiterated Saric's potential value:
Likely lottery pick this year. RT @chadfordinsider: Breaking: Dario Saric has agreed in principle to a three year deal with Anadolu Efes.— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) June 23, 2014
While an interesting move, Saric's decision really shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. His agent, Misko Raznatovic, told Draft Express two months ago that his client might not play in the NBA right away, via Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post: "At this moment he believes that is better to stay in Europe for a season or two, to get a taste of the Euroleague, and then to enter the NBA when he has more experience."
Saric, who has been invited to the Green Room for the draft, was widely believed to be a top-tier prospect in this very deep class. He dropped 19.3 points, grabbed 9.3 rebounds and dished out 3.8 assists per game this year in the Adriatic League. While those numbers don't directly translate to the NBA's style of play, it's hard to ignore the complete line that he is capable of posting.
Although teams might be skeptical of investing a pick early in Round 1 on somebody who might not contribute for two years, his decision is a smart one. Two years with Anadolu will give him the time necessary to hone his skills against better competition. He is also still just 20 years old, so a couple of years to mature overseas would allow him to further fill out his frame (6'10", 223 pounds) before stepping into a much more physical league.
Playing in Europe will also give him a chance to improve his shooting mechanics. While a productive scorer, he lacks the touch to find the bottom of the net consistently—especially from deep. The NBA three-point line is more than three feet farther from the hoop than the Adriatic League arc, so there will be an adjustment period.
That said, by the time he comes to the NBA, he should be ready to make an impact.
Be sure to watch how far he falls on draft night. While there will be a slide, it shouldn't be too shocking. Someone will be smart enough to snatch him up.