Dario Saric, the Philadelphia 76ers’ prized overseas stash, had hopes of making the jump to the NBA this offseason.
“Saric told people he wanted to join Philadelphia now, but couldn’t because his contract had no out-clause,” a source told Basketball Insiders.
Despite the Sixers’ late push to bring him over as soon as possible, negotiations with Turkish finalist Anadolu Efes failed to materialize. Saric is handcuffed overseas until 2016, but it was clear, sources familiar with his wishes said, that he wanted to join Philadelphia.
I asked Saric for his thoughts about moving to the U.S. and the situation with his Turkish club.
“It’s really hard for me to answer that,” Saric said. “I can’t comment.”
“I think I’m ready to compete in the NBA, against the best players, but we built a great team in Efes and I want to help the club win a championship.”
Recently, the 6’9 Croatian competed in a three-point shootout overlooking the Belgrade River in Serbia. Saric, wearing a white polo shirt, Euro-fitted shorts and Kobe Bryant’s IX EM metallic silver and blue colorway sneakers, was taking on a number of excellent marksman in the shootout. His opponents included Brooklyn Nets sniper Mirza Teletovic, Atlanta Hawks stretch-shooter Pero Antic, overseas shooter Bryce Taylor and Europe’s No. 1 closer Vassilis Spanoulis.
Despite the tough competition, Saric came up clutch and won the BeoBasket shootout .
“I was surprised,” Saric said after out-gunning Spanoulis in the final round. “I didn’t even practice or touch a basketball for almost a week. I was bad during the warm up and missed all 15 shots. I couldn’t score one basket.”
When it was suggested that the Black Mamba shoes contributed to the win, Saric laughed and played along.
“I’m sure it helped!” Saric said. “I came from Croatia and it was the only pair of shoes I had at home, but maybe it had some special magic to help me win. I look up to Kobe. We don’t have the same style of game, but I want to be like him mentally and always think about winning.”
It’s worth mentioning that Teletovic, who lost in the first round, was wearing a long-sleeve shirt, pants and glasses while shooting. Antic, also eliminated before the finals, was in a sleeveless shirt, white gym shorts and low-tops.
Saric is a lot of things on the hardwood. He is a gifted NBA-bound point forward with an insane motor that never dies. However, shooting isn’t viewed as one of his strengths. The 21-year-old Croatian has shot 28.7 percent from three-point range throughout his career. He registered 9.9 points on 30.6 percent shooting from the perimeter over 27 games in the Euroleague this past season, as well as 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. That’s why it was surprising to see him win the shootout. However, it’s a testament to his hard work and development.
“I wake up each morning and think about being better than someone else,” Saric said when asked about his improved shooting. “I want to improve all the time, so I had to adjust some things with how I held the ball. It worked.”
He went 3-3 from downtown the following night at the BeoBasket Star game.
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