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3 Keys To Dario Saric’s Improvement

Dario Saric Sixers



3 Keys to Dario Saric’s Improvement This Season

A limited offseason saw Philadelphia 76ers’ Power Forward, Dario Saric, start the 2017-18 season out of sorts. Much of Saric’s July and September were spent overseas with the Croatian National Team. Consequently, he was unable to use the time to ready himself for the season. Limited days with a transformed roster didn’t help the acclimation process either. Despite his early-season woes, Saric has returned to the heights that made him a Rookie of the Year finalist in 2017. The return to form can be attributed to three important aspects.

Finding the Shot

Initially, Saric had a difficult time finding the bottom of the net to start the season. Through the first two months of the year, the big man found himself shooting 40.8% from the field and 35% from 3. While 35% was an improvement from Saric’s rookie season, it was still below the NBA league average of 36.3%. For a team that revolved around two players who scored primarily in the post, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, average to good was a need for a complementary piece’s long-range shot. Fortunately, the holiday season’s jolly atmosphere did Saric some good. Both numbers increased drastically from December-on to a 47.1 FG% with an above-average 39.8% from deep.

To Start, or Not to Start?

Historically, Saric has been at his best as a starter. Saric has shot a paltry 40% from the floor in his 50 NBA games off the bench. After finishing his rookie year and Summer’s EuroBasket tournament as a starter, coming off the bench remained a struggle. Eventually, Head Coach, Brett Brown, placed Saric back in the starting line-up in response to losing four of their first five games. Philly is 18-15 since making the move, and Saric’s PPG has risen from 5.5 to 14.8. Additionally, his assist and rebound numbers have seen a nice bump, as well. Averages of 1.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds have jumped to 2.8 assists and 7.2 rebounds. Despite Saric saying he’d do anything to help the team, he clearly played best as a starter.

New Offense, New Flow

Some of Saric’s personal struggles continued after the change. Teammate and rookie sensation, Ben Simmons, was not much for mid-range jumpers. He was even less inclined to shoot 3-pointers, as his only attempts were on heaves. That fact forced Saric further outside and into a more traditional stretch-four role. He’s taken 43.6% of his shots from 3 this season, which is up from 36.5% during the 2016-17 campaign. Having to change his normal offensive flow, Saric’s percentage on his normally successful shots fell. From 15 feet and in, his clip was down over 10% in his first 14 games from his rookie average of 52.9%. It has risen back to a healthy 57.8% since the end of November.

Over the Pond

Ultimately, shooting consistency, starting and fitting into his new role has helped Saric improve after a bumpy start to the season. With, so many new teammates on the floor, it has been encouraging to see Saric fitting in the starting line-up nicely. Now he can stand large and confident as he and his team take a four-game winning streak to meet the Boston Celtics on his home continent. The Sixers meet the Celtics on January 11th in London, England.
All compiled stats are courtesy of 

Photo by jrg1975