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Dario Saric, Quite Literally, Needs Time to Shine

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The longer he’s on the floor, the better he does.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We’re seeing a new-look Dario Saric this season. After coming out looking tired and frazzled, he’s found his footing after being inserted into the starting lineup and is a legitimate long-distance threat, for the time being. It’s a marked improvement over the season’s first few games, where we kept asking ourselves what his deal was. His deal was he needs time.

I don’t mean he needs time to figure it out during the season, I mean he literally needs playing time. Looking at how he fares when he plays a certain amount of minutes this season and on his career, there are drastic differences. All stats below in per-36 form to make them comparable:

This Season

  • 30+ minutes: 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 46.2% FG, 43.5% 3pt, 61.1% TS
  • 20-29 minutes: 16.7 pts, 8.8 reb, 36.5% FG, 41.7% 3pt, 48.1% TS
  • 10-19 minutes: 9.4 pts, 6,7 reb, 27.3% FG, 20% 3pt, 31.8% TS

Now, we’re early in the season, and separating stats into three smaller groups is gonna cause some small sample size stuff. Those numbers are based off of 101, 141, and 37 total minutes, respectively. But when you look at his career numbers, you see the same thing:

Career

  • 30+ minutes: 20.8 pts, 8.9 reb, 47.7% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 56.8% TS
  • 20-29 minutes: 16.7 pts, 8.8 reb, 39% FG, 33.1% 3pt, 49.4% TS
  • 10-19 minutes: 9.4 pts, 6.7 reb, 27% FG, 19.4% 3pt, 36.8% TS

Note: Dario played the most minutes (61%) in games where he played 20-29 minutes.

His career numbers as a starter vs. reserve also show improvement:

  • Starter: 18.3 pts, 8.4 reb, 3.2 assists, 41.8% FG, 34.4% 3pt, 51.6% TS, 29.5 mpg
  • Reserve: 16.1 pts, 8.8 reb, 2.6 assists, 39.8% FG, 30.3% 3pt, 50% TS, 23.4 mpg

We know shooters need rhythm and some need more time to find it than others. But Dario, outside of his 3pt barrage this year - which has barely effected the career numbers - isn’t much of shooter per se. You want him to be, and hopefully he can trend in that direction, but he’s kind of your do-it-all everyman right now, who pounds down low and gets about 2% of his foul calls. And that’s great, I love him for it, ever since we locked eyes in the airport the day he arrived, I kne— okay I’l stop there.

Before the season started, pretty much everyone agreed that a lineup that featured both Dario and Ben Simmons probably wasn’t your best. But with Markelle Fultz shoulder-less and Jerryd Bayless wrist-less, the starting lineup has worked out of necessity. When - not if, I say to myself - Fultz is back at full strength and eventually works his way into the starting lineup, or when a new free agent is brought in next year an it cuts into Dario’s minutes, will he have developed more consistency by then? That’s a wait and see scenario, but for now, the numbers don’t lie: The more Dario, the better Dario.