By Giorgos Efkarpidisfirstname.lastname@example.org
There is no doubt that Dario Saric is a unique talent something that he has displayed during his rookie season in the NBA. However, to be considered a revolutionary talent from a very young age isn’t always a good thing.
Scouts and teams have had their eyes on Saric since he was 16 years old and that has not always bared well for him.
Although he didn’t live up to his potential during his team with Anadolu Efes, Saric quickly became a fan favorite in Philadelphia mostly due to his versatility, energy, and skills.
Not often do you see a young player come in from Europe and play with the spirit that Saric did last year, where he came in second in Rookie of the Year voting and many expected him to carry the weight for Croatia in this years Eurobasket.
Even though Bojan Bogdanovic may be the team’s leader mostly due to his age and scoring abilities, it’s Saric that will need to push his national team over the hill if they are to be medal contenders in the future.
Croatia, one of the teams that believed that they will make it to the medal rounds no matter who their opponent was, got kicked out by Russia in a game they didn’t really show fight in.
Saric was doing great things for the national team in the group stage with averages of 15,2 points, 7,4 rebounds, and 2,8 assists but his performance against Russia was disappointing.
To be fair, the whole team performance was discouraging and Saric finished the game with 3/14 field-goal attempts and the fact that he was basically the team’s play maker, was something that proved to be the teams “Achilles heel”.
Furthermore, the idea that he and Bender would be able to make plays for the team spreading the floor from the 4-5 position was a great plan but only on paper.
This year, Croatia was hurt due to their lack of depth and ability at the point guard position and also because of the absence of key players such as Mario Hezonja, Ante Zizic, and Ivica Zubac but make no mistake. The weight will be on Saric to carry this team in the future.
He is now 23 years old and while few people doubt his talent and will to develop into an NBA star, he must show that he is ready to lead and compete at a high-level with consistency.
He has a tough task as Croatia hasn’t won a medal since 1995 and while the team seemed to have put “the ghosts of past” behind them after qualifying for the Olympics last summer and having a good tournament in Rio, one must wonder if that is actually true since coach Petrovic talked about “psychological problems”.
While Croatia doesn’t lack in talent, especially in terms of scoring with Bogdanovic performing admirably his duty and other young NBA stars filling in, a player with leadership skills is exactly what is missing.
Someone to step up when the time is right. That role should be Saric’s for years to come.
That role should be Saric’s for years to come.
(Photo credit: FIBA)