2013 NBA Draft: Minnesota Timberwolves, Dario Saric Could Benefit With Help From Andrei Kirilenko

By Ryan Heckman
NBA Draft Chat

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of an exciting offseason. With four picks in the 2013 NBA Draft, two in each round, they are set to add some talent to an already up-and-coming roster. A core including point guard Ricky Rubio, forward Kevin Love and center Nikola Pekovic is in place, and they are ready to make a playoff push now that they’re inching toward full health.

One of the biggest things new president Flip Saunders can do now is to add a versatile wing player into the mix. If the Wolves were able to do so, they would have a complete starting lineup ready to compete instantly. Last season, of course barring injury, the Wolves were just a wing player away from making some noise in the Western Conference and possibly securing a low playoff seed.

Depending on how this draft shakes out, Minnesota could use one of their first round picks on Croatian small forward Dario Saric. His most recent campaign with Croatia featured an outstanding shooting percentage from within the arc. Saric shot just shy of 71 percent on all two point field goals. 71 percent!

How did he do it? Well, Saric is unique in his build and style of play, reminding a lot of international fans of Kevin Durant. At 6’10” and playing the three, Saric is long and athletic giving him an advantage over many others playing his position. He is able to attack the hoop and finish with the best of them, internationally. He also has a fluid jump shot and features great ball handling skills, two things that should translate well at the NBA level no matter where you play.

Being able to not only create his own shot but create for others gives Saric a leg up on other options in this year’s draft at his position. Saric is an above average passer with great vision and awareness on the offensive end. He can make passes that other small forwards are either too slow or not athletic enough to make.

With all this said, how would he fit with the Timberwolves? Being a great international player is one thing; translating the talent to the NBA level is entirely different, but not impossible.

I believe Saric has the chance to be a good player at the professional level here in the United States, specifically with the Timberwolves. Coming onto a team that, hopefully, will feature Andrei Kirilenko – unless he chooses to opt out – would benefit Saric greatly. Kirilenko is an international player himself and a great one at that. The mentoring and coaching from Kirilenko would be a huge asset to Saric as a rookie.

Both Kirilenko and Saric are similar players in their build and their style of play. In his younger days, Kirilenko was even more able to drive the lane and finish at the hoop as well as shoot the ball at a fairly good percentage too – 47 percent for his career. With Kirilenko’s tenacious style of defensive play, Saric could learn a lot about how to defend at the NBA level which would make him all the more well-rounded.

This potential draft pick could be a great fit for the Wolves as they need somebody with Saric’s skill set. The success and chemistry with the team, as well as the transition to the NBA, may depend on whether or not the Wolves have Kirilenko in uniform next season. If they are able to keep Kirilenko in the Twin Cities as well as pick up Saric in the upcoming Draft, next year could be a lot of fun for Wolves fans.

Ryan Heckman is a writer for RantSports.com covering the NBA and NFL. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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