Dario Saric, the 2014 NBA Draft Prospect


Playmaking is an issue for the current Laker team and there’s one player available who can provide that for a team.  His name is Dario Saric.  At 6’10”, with an equal wingspan, he has solid size at the power forward spot. Most players fit a certain mold; post players, shooters, slashers, and playmakers.  Playmakers tend to be the most rare talent on a basketball team.  There’s a different level of court awareness and passing ability that most NBA players cannot execute.

With his size, Saric may be caught between both the power forward and small forward positions.  He’s an average athlete at best; a fair first step, a fair vertical jump, sub-par lateral quickness, average strength.  He doesn’t rely on his athleticism to make himself an effective basketball player.   Instead, it’s all based on hoop IQ.  Athletically, he compares similarly to Ryan Kelly on the Laker roster.  Jordan Hill is too explosive around the hoop. Sacre has too much strength.

Offensively, he likes to get out into transition.  Remember the days when Lamar Odom would grab a defensive rebound and push on the break?  Saric excels at that, but also brings point-guard level passing skills and court vision to finish the break properly.  He has a decent set shot, basic post skills, and can drive in either direction in isolation situations.  What he does best is breakdown the defense analytically, always trying draw the 2nd defender and hit the open man.  Off-the-ball, he moves his feet and finds and empty spot in the defense to attack as well.  He is rarely caught watching the ball, and gets easy opportunities underneath the hoop.  He doesn’t specialize at one particular play on offense.  Across the board, whether he’s in isolation, running a pick and roll, posting up, taking a perimeter jumpshot from a catch and shoot position, or taking a shot off-the-dribble, his effectiveness is relatively the same.  There are no definitive weakspots in his shot creating abilities, and they can only get better with continued work.

17 Minute Video of Dario Saric by DraftExpress, Shows Playmaking

Defensively, there are issues.  He lacks the lateral footspeed to keep up with NBA small forwards.  He lacks the outright power and wingspan to guard NBA level power forwards.  This puts him as a tweener defensively. What he lacks in athleticism and wingspan, he makes up for with defensive hoop IQ, where he can anticipate steals or force turnovers through effective double teams.

He does compare similarly to Hedo Turkoglu in terms of size and athleticism.  Turkoglu refined his jumpshot and eventually became the top playmaker in the 4th quarter over Jameer Nelson when the Orlando Magic last made the Finals in 2009.  On a team surrounded by perimeter shooters and a paint player, Turkoglu helped lead the Orlando Magic to the Finals, overachieving on their way to the top.  Dario Saric is already that level of playmaker, a point guard version of Turkoglu.  What is easiest to fix is strength and perimeter shooting, and once that happens, Saric can make himself into an NBA starter, giving his team multiple options to run the pick and roll.  He can be the ball-handler.  He can be the screener to cut.  He can be the screener to shoot.  He can make that all work effectively.

This makes him most interesting as a prospect, though, in fairness, it may not be what Mike D’Antoni wants out of a frontcourt player.