Dario Saric Impressive In EuroBasket Loss


Sixers draftee Dario Saric and Orlando Magic rookie Mario Hezonja led their homeland of Croatia in a powerhouse matchup with Greece, who were led by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as part of EuroBasket 2015. Both countries are considered favorites to make a deep run in the tournament.

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Dario Saric Game Recap

The anticipation from the crowd in the Croatian capital of Zagreb seemed to overflow right around tip off, as star forward Dario Saric matched up early against Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo started off the game quick with an early dunk to open the scoring for Greece, and Saric responded with a layup to kick off the offense for Croatia. Saric then hit a mid range jump shot, allowing him to get comfortable early.

After two quick fouls, including a technical, Saric found himself sitting for the rest of the first quarter, but still piled up 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in the opening quarter as Croatia jumped out to a 18-13 lead. Here’s a look at Saric’s beautiful no look pass.

Saric’s start to the 2nd quarter wasn’t as great, as he turned the ball over and picked up another quick foul. Saric’s quickness with the ball did allow him to draw a couple of fouls, forcing his counterpart Antetokounmpo to the bench with three minutes left in the half. After a pair of free throws, Saric’s stat line at the half was 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 turnovers and his team once again found itself up 5 to the Greeks.

The scoring came early in the 3rd for Saric. He showed off some improved post play with a turnaround baby hook over Antetokounmpo. Saric also shot his second three pointer of the game, this time sinking it, putting his team up by double digits. After a scoreless rest of the game, Saric’s efforts and the late game swagger of Mario Hezonja weren’t enough to overcome some great heroics by Greek guard Vassilis Spanoulis, and the Croatians found themselves on the losing end of a great game.

Greece beats Croatia 72-70.

Analysis of Saric

Saric really showed his development in this game. He shot 4 for 5 and finished with 11 points, showing an amazing sense of when to shoot and when to look for a better option. Saric also showed he has adapted to playing in the post, which was not evident before the 2014 draft. Saric was also able to create plays for others from the post, and was able to move the ball to create an eventual 3 point opportunity for Hezonja. Saric finished with 2 assists but was essential in the flow of the offense for Croatia.

Saric still has the instinct to run out on the break, and continues to show flashiness around the rim, finishing through contact. This has always been a strength in his game, and he hasn’t let up on it one bit.

The big question has always been whether or not Saric can develop a consistent outside shot. If you take a look at his pre-draft video at DraftExpress.com, you can see a shot that looked to be in development. It was often a shot with a slow release. Saric only shot two three-pointers in the game against Greece, but you can see that Saric has worked on his shooting form. The release is quicker, the form is tighter, and it is beautiful to see how far he has come. It will still be intriguing to see whether he can consistently hit his outside shots.

Saric did have a few careless turnovers, but other than that, there were no alarming weaknesses in Saric’s game. He did show some laziness on a few plays on the defensive end, including this:

That happens with young players. He also got what many call “posterized”, although I disagree with that. Take a look here:

I’m going to defend Saric and say he came from behind and made a great defensive effort on the play, but just missed blocking the dunk by a hair. There have been worse posterizations, so lets cut him some slack.

Overall, Dario Saric had a great showing against the Greeks, and seems to have become more well rounded. Saric won’t have the rookie bumps in his first year in the NBA that many rookies have because of his experience against a lot of NBA talent. It will be fun to continue to watch his progression.

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