Position: Power forward
Status for 2018-19: Third year of rookie deal ($2,526,840)
Saric in 2017-18
With the arrival of JJ Redick and a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Saric came off the bench to start the season. That lasted just five games as Saric struggled in that role and Brett Brown looked to shake things up after a 1-4 start. The second-year Croatian went on to start 73 games.
Saric averaged 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 29.6 minutes per game. All of those numbers are slightly better than last season, but his efficiency improved greatly. Saric took the identical amount of field goal attempts per contest the last two seasons, but still saw his scoring average raise by almost two full points. He shot just 31 percent on 4.2 threes a game his rookie season. That percentage jumped to 39 percent on 5.1 attempts. That’s well above league average and extremely promising as the 24-year-old continues to develop.
Saric started off the playoffs on fire, then struggled, and then ended his first playoff run with two massive games. Overall, his numbers looked great (17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 39 percent from three), but you’d just like to see more consistency.
For Saric, his finest game was his last. In Game 5 against the Celtics, Saric tied a season-high with 27 points. He also added 10 boards and four assists while hitting all three of his shots from three. This after posting 25 points and eight boards during the Sixers’ only win of the series in Game 4.
Looking ahead to 2018-19
Saric is still on his rookie deal so he comes very cheap. With no international games on his slate this summer, Saric heads into the offseason healthy and should be rested coming into next season. With how much he improved from Year 1 to Year 2, it’ll be intriguing to see what Saric does in Year 3.
Of course what the Sixers do this offseason will have a huge effect on every player, including Saric. He’s been mentioned by more than one outlet as a possible trade asset in a deal for the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Saric seems like the type of player Gregg Popovich would love, but would the Sixers pull the trigger on a deal including a player that was such a big piece for them?
If the Sixers are able to acquire a superstar without giving up Saric, there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue to excel. He’s proven to be a great complement to the team’s young stars already and brings an edge to his game in addition to his skill set.
“What I should work on is more footwork, how to guard smaller guards in some situations with the switching, how to defend a quicker guy. If I talk about my offensive skills, I think I need to improve again more shooting, more one-on-one in the low post, more one-on-one facing from the 3-point line. I think I need to really bring my game, if it’s possible, one level up.”
-Saric on what he needs to work on this offseason