While he hasn’t received the same level of publicity as Dante Exum in recent months, Dario Saric is another international player the Utah Jazz could consider when they make the fifth selection of the 2014 NBA Draft. Unlike Exum, who has little experience competing against quality opponents, Saric has been playing professionally since 2009, most recently for Cibona of the Adriatic League.
Saric wasn’t just another guy on the roster for Cibona; he led the team to the Adriatic League championship, putting up 16.7 points, nearly 10 boards and over three assists per game, as well as being named league and finals MVP. That’s a great resume for a young player, but what is it exactly that makes the Croatian a viable option for the Jazz? For starters, he has a skill set that is unique for players of his size.
At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, one might assume that he’s a natural power forward for the NBA game, but his ability to move, put the ball on the floor and see the entire court as a ball handler have made it possible for him to play at the three as well. Additionally, his shooting has improved throughout the years. If he continues on his current trajectory, he could reach the point where he becomes potentially dangerous as a long range, spot-up shooter. In the Adriatic League Final Four, he was 8-for-16 from three-point range.
If he’s able to play at small forward in the NBA, his length could be difficult for other three men to handle on both ends of the floor. As a PF, his mobility, handles and versatile inside-out offensive game could also cause match-up problems for opponents.
Something else to consider when weighing the possibility of the Jazz selecting Saric is the bevy of young talent they already have in place, specifically in the frontcourt. It is unlikely that the team (which owns the Nos. 5, 23 and 35 picks in this year’s draft) would want to add three more young players to the roster with so many young pieces already with the team. By drafting Saric, Utah could allow him to continue playing overseas and develop his game while they further evaluate the progress of players like Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert.
Again, Saric is a less mysterious prospect than Exum, but he could still be a reach (or a bust) for the Jazz at No. 5. Still, in a draft that includes 18-year-old big men Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon, his years of experience on the international stage could make him just as NBA ready, if not more so than some of the other bigs in the 2014 class.