Dario Saric continues to embody what Philly is all about

By Dan Knerr, Sports Talk Philly staff 

Sixers' power forward Dario Saric continues to play better and better this season, furthering my reasoning on why I'm so high on him and it's not just because of his incredible mustache game. 

He brings a complete offensive skill set to the table, and plays with a ferocious intensity that embodies what the city of Philadelphia is all about.

Although his defense is mediocre, with occasional glimpses of solidity, Saric's offensive game is something worth talking about. 

He's averaging 14.5 points, seven rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this season.  This is coming off his stellar rookie season, where he was a finalist for Rookie of the Year. 

But being on a team with two up and coming superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, it is not all that surprising that he is often lost in the shuffle. 

But his value to this team is undeniable, and should not be understated.

Although his rebounding statistics don't exactly jump out at you as being stellar at about seven per game, his tenacious effort on the offensive glass is remarkable. 

He is currently 24th in the NBA in offensive boards, averaging a tick over two a game.  This is a huge statistic for a player on a young, talented team like the Sixers. His ability to get offensive second chances is exactly what his team needs because it allows them to fire away from the field.

Watching Saric battle for offensive boards is honestly inspiring. 

He is so scrappy and ruthless, and it pays off for him and his team.  You often see him reaching over defenders.  He is constantly throwing elbows and entangling himself with opponents in relentless pursuit of the ball.  It's clear that his time playing a scrappy European brand of basketball overseas in his home nation of Croatia has turned him into a freak of nature on the offensive glass. 

He also does a wonderful job of positioning himself and calculating the trajectory of missed shots coming off the rim.  Saric continues to show that he has a knack for reading missed shots. 

I only expect his offensive rebounding abilities to increase as he gains strength and experience.  

In addition to his stellar work in the paint, Saric can work his magic from beyond the three-point line as well.  He's shooting 38.4% from beyond the arc, which is formidable in itself.  It's so valuable to have a bruiser at the power forward position that can also sneak outside and make a three.  It helps to spread the defense which frees up space for Embiid in the post.  It also keeps the defense honest.  This helps the Sixers offense significantly, being that you can never have too many shooters in today's NBA.  You wouldn't think a player like Saric would have a soft touch, but Dario does. 

Dario's facilitating ability shouldn't be slept on, either.  Although he doesn't necessarily tally a high number of assists, he can move the ball effectively.  I've noticed that he excels at executing passes to the player slashing to the basket in particular.  He can execute this pass with the required amount of touch to clear defenders in the path, all while being accurate and timely. 

Saric has great vision, and is capable of making acrobatic passes through tight spaces as well.  He also does a good job with ball movement in general, which doesn't show up in the box score.  This is yet another facet of his game that he will build upon throughout his career.

It is important to remember that Saric is only in his second year in the NBA.  He has a long road of development ahead of him, and I believe that his ceiling is much higher than where he is at now. 

Saric is constantly making effort plays that are overlooked.  His work on the offensive glass is what sticks out to me as being his trait that signifies who he is as a player.  His dedication and perseverance down low sets the tone for the whole team, leading with hustle and fortitude. 

The way he plays symbolizes that "Philly grit" in which the city prides itself in.  Every team needs a guy who is a scrappy grinder, someone willing to do the dirty work. 

In Philly, we have a guy in Dario Saric that can play this role, but also has the tools needed to be a star in today's NBA.

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