6. Dario Saric
And now, back to our regularly scheduled program and the final undercard match before the main event. Dario Saric is the first player I thought of when making this list because while he technically played three seasons with the 76ers, he was technically on the team for five.
That’s because he was drafted in 2014 but elected to play in Europe for two more years before coming over to the NBA to develop his game further. This was immensely frustrating for 76ers fans, as generally, you want promising young players to develop within the NBA ecosystem rather than elsewhere.
That’s why all the best college players are drafted after one year. To maximize their abilities, getting reps at an NBA pace is critical, and removing the associated jitters and refining skills before their physical prime begins is the hallmark of successful player development.
Saric, on the other hand, took forever to even step onto an NBA court. He showed flashes of greatness during his tenure but never could piece together the consistency to become a great player. Eventually, he became the quote-unquote centerpiece of the infamous Jimmy Butler trade.
Butler quickly soured on the 76ers as a winning environment, and thus Saric feels like a wasted five years of promise. The trade still made sense, so it’s hard to bash it now retroactively, but I’d argue that the promise itself was the issue.
Saric’s delays coincided with Embiid’s early career, which was completely muted by injuries, which allowed the 76ers to feel as though they had a real plan in place that needed time.
But time is an excuse for why a team is failing, not a plan to fix it. The 76ers’ reliance on time to fix their problems is probably what is causing all of them these days. The culture of waiting, losing, and a general lack of urgency seems to have invaded the championship window, which is a cautionary tale for teams too eager to tank. Saric represents this perfectly.