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“What is a successful season?”: Dario Saric

The Croatian big man became a big part of the Sixers’ success last year.

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As we make our way toward training camp, we’ll be examining what would constitute a successful season for various members of the roster. Previously covered: Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons. Now, the Homie Dario.

Dario Saric is only getting better. After a rookie year that saw Saric find his footing once Joel Embiid went down with a season-ending injury, he became a focal point of the starting lineup in his second year. Now that the Sixers are one of the league’s most exciting teams, the rest of the NBA will notice how important of a role Saric plays for Philadelphia.

Not the most athletic player on the court, Saric doesn’t need that in order to succeed. He gives maximum effort at all times, and because of that he will always be able to compete, even when he is outmatched athletically. He brings a sense of stability to the lineup from both inside and out that the starting lineup needs, but it isn’t out of the question that Saric eventually ends up back on the bench once Markelle Fultz is ready to take over a starting role (Ed. note: Read Andrew Favakeh on that very topic).

Whatever role Saric does fill is sure to be an important one, as he has shown he is a reliable rotation member. One area that is an obvious concern is his defense, and if he really wants to keep that starting spot, he will need to at least be able to keep his opponent in check. Too often Saric is seen getting lost on screens or not moving his feet quickly enough, allowing players to drive by him. He doesn’t need to transform into a first team all-defender, but if he can just become a player who offenses don’t target, then the Sixers will be better off. When starting alongside Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, and Joel Embiid, Saric has help, so any new defensive stability would make the starting unit one of the best in the NBA, or could also help bolster the bench.

One of the pleasant surprises of this past season was how consistent Dario Saric was on offense. A threat both down low and away from the net, Saric doesn’t have any true areas he needs to improve on offensively. He plays his role perfectly on the Sixers. He may never be a top option on any team, but he can always be looked at as a security valve when things don’t go right on an offensive possession. It would be nice to see Saric take more command on offense this year, but with so many mouths to feed that might not be possible.

A successful season doesn’t necessarily mean doing anything different, it can mean just not taking a step back. Saric plays the perfect role for this team, the reliable scorer who will help win games. He may never have to be an MVP-caliber player and that is totally fine. The Homie should have a positive effect on the Sixers once again, whether it’s in the starting lineup or giving the bench unit a boost in consistency.

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