"Sixers Overseas" is your weekly update on 76ers prospects who are spanning the globe, from Turkey to Germany and everywhere in between.
It's been a few weeks, so let's recap: Anadolu Efes took a brutal loss in the opening round of single-elimination play for the Turkish Basketball Federation Cup, a regular season tournament, last week. Pinar Karsiyaka edged them 67-66, while The Homie Dario (TM) put in 14 points, seven rebounds and one block on 5-of-10 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep.
Then yesterday, in the most highly anticipated EuroSixer face-off since Cenk Akyol gave Furkan Aldemir the business back in the day, Saric and 2014 second-round pick Vasilije Micic went head-to-head for the second time this year. Last time they met up, Dario did this:
Dario Saric @Euroleague Top 16’da Kızılyıldız ile oynadığımız ilk maçta... pic.twitter.com/eJJpbWbLcV— Anadolu Efes SK (@AnadoluEfesSK) February 26, 2016
But Crvena Zvezda held on for the win in this one, and Micic got the nod for one of his only starts this season. He made the most of it, going for 13 points and four dimes in 26 minutes on 5-of-9 shooting and a triple.
Despite cracking the starting lineup, as I've discussed in the past, the path to the league for Micic is still pretty murky, and this has been a brutal year for him. He's shot just 37 percent from the field (30-of-81) when given a chance to see the floor, and his playmaking remains his only identifiable pro-caliber skill. It's not nothing, and he's a pick-and-roll maestro who's managed to salvage an AST:TO ratio over 2 in an otherwise lost season, but I'd be hard-pressed to conjure any way for him to get to the NBA in the foreseeable future.
The same of course isn't the case for Dario, so let's get to him. He went for 19 points, eight boards, three assists and just one turnover in 29 minutes in this one, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep.
It's been a big year for Saric, as the Sixers hope he'll make the move to come stateside this summer. His three-point shooting has regressed a bit of late, converting on just seven of his 23 attempts in eight Top 16 Euroleague games since Dec. 30. But the improvement is pretty evident just in the evolution of his stroke and confidence over the last year. He's clinging on to 36 percent from beyond this season, and at 21 years old, the line he's shooting from is still nearly a foot-and-a-half back from the NCAA three-point line.
With his marked improvement in this department, despite regression, I like his chances to become at least a passable NBA three-point shooter. The transition to shooting at the next level may not be the smoothest, but it rarely is for non-specialists without the limitless range that guys like Devin Booker come in with. Saric's mid-range game should at least be one of his real weapons off-the-bat, and he's shooting over 82 percent from the charity stripe this season.
Now, you'll see growing pains in wings teeing up in college before moving three feet back to NBA distance and shooting in the face of close-outs from grown men (paging Nik Stauskas), but Saric has an advantage here. His role isn't going to be to stand on the wing as a stationed sniper either, and in a lot of ways, shooting at his clip this season from long range when shooting is his third, maybe fourth discernible job with this Efes team, is super impressive by itself.
Remember, he's not necessarily going to be a highly featured scoring source. But if Dario can manage to nail down those secondary skills like he's made headway on with his rebounding and now shooting, to go with that playmaking, he's got a real chance to be one of the coveted swiss-army-knife fours in today's NBA. There's still a long way to go across the board, and the transition from the TBL to the NBA won't be any cake walk (especially defensively), but he's on the right track.