With the injury to Markelle Fultz early on this season, Dario Saric was thrust back into a starting role. While no injury is a good thing, it came at the perfect time for Saric, who was struggling mightily off of the bench. Moving Ben Simmons full time to point guard allows Saric to play his normal position of stretch power forward where he can be used several different ways.
Starting the year off of the bench, Dario just never looked comfortable. His shot wasn’t falling and with sporadic minutes he couldn’t get in any kind of rhythm. The move back to the starting lineup gives him more minutes along with the ability to shoot through any cold spells he might have. Saric felt like a square peg in a round hole in a super utility role from the bench. Now he is in a more natural spot, and fans can tell he is playing a more relaxed, confident style of basketball.
Since Saric’s move to the starting lineup he is averaging 12 points per game and more importantly, 6.3 rebounds. The rebound numbers don’t jump off of the page but his big frame allows him to play strong defense and consistently make plays around the rim, grabbing rebounds on both offense and defense. So far this season the Sixers are second in the league in rebounding percentage at 52.8% per game, proving that another big body in the starting lineup like Saric gives the team more opportunities. Besides JJ Redick, the shortest player in the starting lineup is 6’9”. The use of a bigger lineup allows the Sixers to dominate inside.
It may not be a popular opinion, but once Markelle Fultz is healthy he needs to be used as a bench player, at least for the start of his career. People quickly forget Fultz is only 19 years old. Adjusting to the NBA takes some time, so keeping an established player in Saric in the starting lineup over the learning rookie makes sense. Fans may call for Bryan Colangelo and Brett Brown’s heads for the decision, but with the Sixers playing so well with this starting lineup, why rock the boat? This style of “be the biggest guys on the court” is working for the team right now, and while it may not be the lineup of the future, it is the lineup of right now, and right now is working out pretty well if you ask me.
Side Note: This is my first post with Liberty Ballers, it may sound corny, but it really is a dream come true to write here after years of reading content posted. With that said, the end of all my posts will be fun, because Sixers fans deserve it, so how about you clap your hands.