Is Sixers’ Dario Saric a legitimate candidate for NBA sixth man of the year?


Is Dario Saric ever coming over? That was the question Sixers fans asked over and over again, after the team selected the Croatian in 2014 NBA Draft. After a two-year stay overseas, Saric kept his promise and joined the Sixers last season. After an adjustment period early, Saric showcased craftiness we’ve never seen before. The no-look dishes, the jump-stops among the trees, the finesse around the round — Dario had game, and he’s still learning.

In 81 games last year, the 23-year-old averaged 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per contest. After Bryan Colangelo dealt fellow power forward Ersan Illyasova at the deadline, Saric started the final 25 games of the year, playing over 30 minutes a game. Over that span, he averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Saric finished second behind Bucks’ guard Malcolm Brogdon for ROY honors.

Though the Sixers’ forward can’t win the ROY again, he’ll be up for another award. Assuming health, the Sixers will have a new-look starting lineup by way of Markelle Fultz, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid. That leaves Saric as Brett Brown’s sixth man.

Rockets’ guard Eric Gordon was the recipient of the award last year. He averaged 16.2 points per game and shot over 37 percent from distance. Andre Iguadola finished a close second (32 points behind), scoring 7.6 points, snatching 4.0 rebounds and dishing out over three assists. The former Sixer’s all-around game is what made the vote so close. Another former Sixer, Lou Williams, came in a distant third place.

Dario coming off the bench may suite his game better. Though Saric was the focal point of the offense at the latter stages of the year, he was battling the other teams’ starters. Saric was the guy his opponents were keying on. The fact that the 23-year-old will be surrounded with more weapons and coming off the bench should only boost his numbers. He should be scoring between 12-15 points per game and his assist numbers should continue to climb with more perimeter shooters. And he’s already an exceptional rebounder.

According to last year’s results, voters seem to value the entire package. Iguadola’s rebound and assists numbers were far superior to Gordon’s. Him scoring nine fewer points per game than the Rockets’ guard was too much to overcome. If Dario can score 12-15 points a game, continue his rebounding prowess, and deliver some sick dimes, the sixth man of the year will come through Philadelphia. A potential playoff berth would also help the Croatian’s cause.

Malcolm Brogdon who? Losing the ROY to him will be a thing of the past.


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports