Philadelphia 76ers should trade Dario Saric for an elite shooting guard

Dario Saric | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dario Saric
Dario Saric | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dario Saric /

Dario Saric put together a strong second season with the Philadelphia 76ers, but is trading him the best option long term?

Let me begin by confessing my love for The Homie. He’s a gritty, engaged, durable player with a handsome smile. He was acquired by our lord and savior Sam Hinkie. He is the fiery presence I crave every time Ben Simmons refuses to break his stoic facade.

But Dario Saric has to go.

As the roster is currently constructed, the Philadelphia 76ers‘ starting lineup will presumably be:

PG: Simmons | SG: Redick/Fultz | SF: Covington | PF: Saric | C: Embiid

But that’s offensively. Defensively, that same lineup looks like:

PG: Redick/Fultz/Covington | SG: Redick/Fultz/Covington (Covington guards the best player between the PG and SG) | SF: Simmons | PF: Saric | C: Embiid

That’s a nice lineup, but constructed to excel offensively far more than defensively due to Saric’s inability to both guard certain power forwards and players at other positions (the long way of saying he lacks on defense), and because it asks Ben Simmons to guard the three and Robert Covington the two.

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That’s fine in a certain light. The Sixers excelled defensively last year. However, Covington is 6-foot-9. He struggles against smaller players due to their quickness. Ideally, he covers the three, only guarding twos when the three is a negative offensive player the Sixers can hide someone on.

When Covington covers the three, the Sixers can keep two smaller players on the court, optimizing them defensively and opening a new dimension of their offense.

The Sixers could already do this by starting both Markelle Fultz and J.J. Redick and bringing Dario off the bench, but Redick is only getting older and presumably worse defensively. In an ideal world, Redick is the super sub.

Defensively, the Sixers’ optimal starting lineup looks like:

PG: Fultz/Player to be acquired | SG: Fultz/Player to be acquired | SF: Covington | PF: Simmons | C: Embiid

Offensively, that lineup turns into the terrifying (for opponents):

PG: Simmons | SG: Fultz/Player to be acquired | SF: Fultz/Player to be acquired | PF: Covington | C: Embiid

That’s floor spacing if I ever saw it, which is the name of the game in the modern NBA. Imagine Ben and Joel attacking the basket with those passing options. This lineup is also a bevy of versatile weapons on the court, allowing for varied possessions that keep guys fresh.

With all due respect to Dario, his best fit on the Sixers is first guy off the bench.

Well, then, instead of trading Dario, let’s start Fultz and Redick and bring Dario off the bench.

We could, and, honestly, we might see some of that this season. It might work. Dario might win Sixth Man of the Year and be the leader of a top-five bench unit.


I believe that Dario has yet to reach his ceiling. In the right situation, he’s an All-Star. He’s a 40+ percent three-point shooter, 20+ point scorer, and at least capable defensively (he’ll learn to move his feet better and better utilize his weight).

It’s nice to have that guy on your team, but that team isn’t the Sixers. There’s no All-Star Dario on a roster where Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Fultz need the ball. The Sixers need a player who has already developed, who can take the pressure off Fultz early in his career, and who’s a better long-term asset than Redick (and possibly better defensively).

The Sixers need to flip Dario for a shooting guard.

Imagine this:

Fultz is a shooting guard/point guard hybrid, and with Simmons’ defensive versatility, the Sixers possess the luxury of playing two guards plus Simmons at any given time. Assuming Fultz guards the better of any team’s two guards, that other guard could be Redick, CJ McCollum, Gary Harris, or someone else.

The ideal is Redick coming off the bench, making the Sixers better and deeper in a league where stocking as much star power as possible matters. Redick, Wilson Chandler, T.J. McConnell, Mike Muscala, and Amir Johnson suddenly sounds like a bench that could keep pace in a playoff series with Boston.

Another line of thinking is that we can sign Klay Thompson in free agency and keep Dario. To that I say, do you really think we’re going to pry Klay Thompson away from a team he’s claimed he wants to retire with? And are you that patient?

Jimmy Butler!

Again, are you patient enough to wait around for someone who might not come?

In trading Dario, the Sixers can guarantee themselves a vital missing piece, that sharpshooting proven guard who spaces the floor, creates off the dribble, and constantly threatens to stab knives into the hearts of opponents when Ben and Joel aren’t making it happen.

As great as Dario might become, an elite shooting guard is a better fit on a roster with not just unicorn Joel Embiid, but unicorn Ben Simmons who can run the point on offense and guard the four on defense.

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To stick with Dario is to stick with a conventional NBA starting lineup when we don’t need to. To trade Dario is to finally slot in the missing piece this roster needs without having to wait for another offseason.