With chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo in town for face-to-face meetings with general manager Sam Hinkie, coach Brett Brown and managing owner Josh Harris this week, one of the topics on the agenda was the long-term makeup of the roster.
A speculative undertaking at best, the Sixers’ brass attempted to lay out a few developments they could keep an eye on in regards to the draft and free agency as they attempt to build a championship-caliber roster.
And when it comes to building that roster, international man of mystery Dario Saric figures into those plans.
Selected with the No. 12 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Saric has spent the past two seasons playing for Turkish club Anadolu Efes in the Euro-League. In 15 games this season, the 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 10.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from three-point range, hitting 15 threes in his 15 games.
With the young prospect shooting slightly better than 30 percent from long range last season and 43.3 percent overall, Hinkie has been impressed with Saric’s improvement with his shot.
“He’s doing really well for Efes this year,” Hinkie said. “He’s having a great season, he’s continued to shoot it really well.”
As for when Saric could join the Sixers, Hinkie remains optimistic. Saric signed a three-year deal with Anadolu Efes before the ’14 draft, but there is a buyout option after two seasons. There are numerous reports indicating that Saric wishes to join the Sixers for the 2016-17 season, but the Sixers had no official comment on that possibility.
However, Hinkie said he is in regular contact with Saric and his representatives.
“Maybe 48 hours go by without one of us talking to him, not 72,” Hinkie said. “We spend a lot of time paying attention to his development because he’s important to us and because we care about him and he knows that. When the time is right, I’m sure he’ll make whatever’s the best decision for him.”
Development is still at the forefront of Saric’s game. Reports from the Euro-League indicate that Saric struggles on defense and has been plagued by foul trouble. Those are two aspects of the game that every young player struggles with and they undoubtedly will be issues when Saric comes to the NBA.
But Hinkie said the offensive side of Saric’s game has shown improvement.
“He’s done really well this year and he’s gifted, he can put it on the floor, he can defensive rebound, he can bring it up in transition,” Hinkie said. “When his day comes, he’ll have a lot of transition to the NBA that he’ll have to focus on. But shooting is definitely a part of what he’s been focused on and what he’s already improved on.”
Meanwhile, as the Sixers continue to keep close tabs on their Turkish prospect, Saric is also paying close attention to the Sixers, according to Hinkie. Brown also is in regular contact with Saric as well.
“He knows it and he knows how much we care about his development and how close attention we pay to every game and how he’s doing,” Hinkie said. “He’s paying pretty close attention to our games and how we’re progressing as well.”