Everything You Need to Know About Dario Saric (Updated)

Published: June 6, 2013

I said in the last podcast that it was clear to me by this time in the process that Austin Rivers would be the 10th pick, but that this year was way different and I had no idea what the Pelicans would do with the sixth pick.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Even though I had Dario Saric going sixth to us in my first mock draft on the night of the draft lottery, I wasn’t as confident as when I predicted Rivers would be the pick on the same night last year. I had heard Dell really liked Saric and when you combined that with Monty’s comments about drafting for need, Dario Saric seemed like the most likely pick with Otto Porter off the board. After really researching Saric intensively these past few weeks and looking back at some comments Dell has made and some whispers we have heard, combined with the fact that Dell got a lot of his education in the San Antonio organization, I really think Saric could be the pick even if guys like Porter, Oladipo, or Burke are available when we select.

Though our own Michael Pellisier did a tremendous job arguing for Dario Saric in the first round of our Sixth Pick Tournament, there are still a couple of questions I get on a fairly regular basis that I would like to answer in this piece. To be clear, this is not a piece where I will give my opinions on Saric or make an argument for the Pelicans to pick him. It will also not be a piece where I give you my ideas of the strengths and weaknesses of his game. It is meant to clarify some questions that come with the unfamiliarity that we are all naturally going to have with an international players. International players bring with them an obscurity, whether it is in regard to their contracts, their game, or the level of competition they have played against and how it compares to the college game. Hopefully, in this piece I can address some of those questions and provide a piece to look back on when if we take Dario Saric on draft night.

1. Can Saric play right away or would will leave him in Europe for a year or two?

This is kind of a trick because it really is two questions rolled into one, but this is the question I get asked the most so I will address it directly here. First, let’s pull apart the two questions:

            A. Can Saric play right away?

I will answer this question with a question: How many rookies can play and play well right away? Looking back on last year, for instance, I count only two rookies who had a PER over 15 (which represents a league average player) and played 24+ minutes per game. Even if I lowered that that to 17 minutes per game, that number only jumps to four, with Andre Drummond and Jonas Valanciunas joining Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard.

At small forward, Moe Harkless and Harrison Barnes were given starter’s minutes and most observers thought they did alright but their PER’s were only 12.54 and 11.08 respectively. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the second overall pick in a draft that is said to be much stronger than this one only played 25 minutes per game and put up a PER of 14.04 for a very bad Charlotte team. The point I am getting at is that if you expect any rookie to come in and provide help right away for the Pelicans, you are likely to be disappointed. As far as next year is concerned, the Pelicans would probably be better off grabbing a guy like Dorrell Wright (16.07) or Corey Brewer (14.76) to start for them than expect any rookie, including Saric, to come in and play big minutes.

         B. Will the Pelicans bring him over or leave him in Europe? 

Saric had a fairly tumultuous year, as his club team lost its place in the Adriatic League and he was forced to switch teams after a messy buyout and series of contract negotiations. He never really clicked with his new team, mostly because they took the ball out of his hands and forced him to play more as a power forward than a point forward. Recently, he has stated that he will “try to play in Croatia next year” even if he is drafted in the first round. This goes against what he said just a couple of weeks earlier, but that shouldn’t be surprising if you have followed Saric the past few months. He has put his name into the draft, pulled it out, only to put it back in again. And he has even said that he might pull it out again, depending on the advice of his agent and the promises (or lack there of) that teams will give him. Don’t read too much into this, it is a ploy used quite often by international prospects and their agents to gain as much leverage as possible. Par for the course, really.

If he is drafted by the Pelicans, Dell will have a say in this, and there is some reason to believe that the Pelicans might entertain the idea of leaving him overseas. The Spurs discovered Manu Ginobli at the same age, when he was playing in Argentina. A few years later they spent the 57th pick in the 1999 draft on him, but waited a few seasons to bring him over. In that time, Ginobli blossomed, winning multiple Championships and MVP awards. That, combined with some stellar international play, helped his game mature and by the time he got to the Spurs, he was able to log significant minutes. He posted a PER of 18.5 in his second season, and prior to this season, was over 20 in every subsequent season. Knowing that Dell and Monty both were with the Spurs at different times of Manu’s career, it would not be surprising to see them try to duplicate this model.

Of course, using the 6th pick on somebody is far different than using the 57th pick on a player, but need I remind you that Jonas Valanciunas was selected 5th just two years ago and spent that first season overseas where he racked up multiple player of the year awards before coming to Toronto last season and enjoying a fine rookie year. Ricky Rubio went 5th in 2009 and stayed over for two years and had an immediate impact in the NBA once he came over. Some would argue that if the kid is going to struggle regardless when he is 19 or 20, why not leave him over in Europe and delay the start of his rookie contract. Dell might be on board with that strategy, but will Saric agree?

In these situations, the agent runs the whole show. The International player doesn’t really have a complete understanding of how our draft process works and it is the agent’s job to do what he thinks is in the best interest for his client. They tend to play the NBA against International teams, increasing their leverage in both markets. You also have to remember that Saric is doing interviews in Europe where he is a hero and where it is in his best interest to say that he will return next season. Imagine Dwight Howard going on LA radio and saying that he plans to leave. What would be the benefit in doing that? Same with Saric.

Something else to consider is the fact that Dell Demps has some ties with Saric’s club team. Dell Demps played for KK Cibona back in 1998-99, and you could speculate that he probably still has a good relationship with the organization today. We have heard that GM’s don’t like to send players to the NBDL unless they own the team because they don’t know if they will be developed properly or taught the things the organization wants them to be taught. It is possible that because of this relationship Dell has with his team, they can form a partnership that allows Saric to grow into the kind of player the Pelicans want him to be.

One thing is clear,  Dell will have conversations with Saric and his agent and if he makes him the pick at #6, all three men will have a clear plan for where Saric will be next year and the years following.

2. What is Saric’s current contract situation and what are our options if we take him and bring him over?

Dario Saric is currently under a four year contract with Cibona that he signed last November, but he has a 1.2 million Euro buyout (about 1.57 million U.S.) and the Pelicans are allowed to pay $500,000 towards that buyout. Saric would owe the remaining one million dollars and change. If he gets 120% of the rookie scale, which is the norm, he would get a little over 3.2 million in his rookie year. If the Pelicans pay the full amount allowed per the CBA towards his buyout, Saric would net 2.2 million dollars this year and would stand to make more money over the course of his rookie contract than he would with his current Cibona contract, even when you factor in the cost of the buyout.

3. If Saric plays overseas next season, will he count against our cap?

If both the Pelicans and Saric agree that this would be the best course of action, they would each have to write letters to the league office stating that Saric will not play in the NBA this year. If this were to happen, the Pelicans would retain future rights but would have no cap hold on the books for the 2013-14 season. The cap hold for the sixth pick will be a little over 2.6 million this year, so that savings could theoretically help the Pelicans sign free agents this summer while Saric develops overseas. If the Pelicans and Saric were to take this course of action, his rookie contract will essentially be frozen at its current slot and just pick back up whenever he comes over.

4. If Dell really wants Saric, why not trade back and get him later?

A couple of things here. First of all, there is no guarantee he will be there later. I know that there are mock drafts out right now that project Saric anywhere from 13 to 23, but those things mean absolutely nothing. Paul George was projected to go in the 20’s in most mock drafts early in June of 2010. At this time last year, Dion Waiters was projected to go somewhere between 11 and 14. Take those with a grain of salt. Don’t think for a second that those things represent a player’s value. Dell won’t care about those mock drafts, that’s for sure. He will set up his board and take the guy he thinks has the most potential to help this team, independent of how other teams might feel about those players. For instance, Dell Demps absolutely loved Kenneth Faried in 2011 and would have taken him as high as 12th if we had a pick that year. Would it have been viewed as a reach at the time? Maybe. Would Dell have cared? No. Nor should he.

You don’t want to get cute if there is a guy that you really want especially if you aren’t going to get much in return to trade down. Maybe he can slip down to 9 or 10 and still feel like it is a safe bet that Saric will be there, but should he risk that for something like the 26th pick – a pick that has a 15% chance of landing you a rotation player? Put it this way, take the guy YOU love: Burke, Porter, Oladipo, whoever. They are there at 6. Would you trade down and risk losing them for the 26th pick? That is how Dell might feel about Saric. Not worth the risk, just because some guys with mock drafts tell you he will probably be available. In Chad Ford’s latest chat, he stated that “a handful of teams believe Saric is a top five talent in the draft” and that “scouts that really know Europe don’t see much of a difference between him and Otto Porter.” Who knows if one of those teams who has him top five is right behind your or if they would be willing to trade up in front of you to snatch him if you trade back.

The same way that YOU wouldn’t risk letting one of your top five guys go if he is sitting there at 6, I don’t think Dell will get to cute with it either. Especially not for a 15% chance at a rotation player when Dell has shown he can get rotation players (Belinelli, Ayon, Smith, Green, Roberts, etc.) for peanuts any time he wants.

5. How does the level of competition he played against in his league stack up to the NCAA?

This is a great question, and honestly the one I had to do the most research on because there are so many different leagues in Europe. For the past two seasons, he has been playing regularly in the Adriatic League, also known as the ABA, which is widely regarded as either the best or second best regional professional basketball league in Europe. This is the league that produced Nikola Pekovic and Goran Dragic amongst others and, this season, featured some familiar names like DJ Strawberry, Terrico White, Darko Planinic, and current San Antonio Spur Aron Baynes. The league is full of much older, bigger, and smarter players, along with former American college stars whose games have now matured as well, so most (if not all) would say that this league offers a higher level of competition than you would find in the NCAA’s.

After the Adriatic League’s season was over, he joined KK Cibona in the Croatian League and led them to the Championship Round last week where they swept rival KK Zadar to win their second straight Croatian League title. Saric and DJ Strawberry were the best players in the playoffs and Saric had a remarkably efficient performance in the championship clinching game, scoring 19 points on just 5 shots, while pulling down a game high 12 rebounds.

Saric also performed very well in in the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. Even though he was one of the youngest players in the competition (just 17 at the time), he put up 18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, including 22, 11, and 4 in a win against a Lithuania team that featured Jonas Valanciunas. Then, he put up 17 and 8 with 4 steals as Croatia pulled a huge upset in an 87-85 win over a United States team that featured Jeremy Lamb, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Tony Mitchell, Patric Young, and Meyers Leonard. The next year he led Croatia to the gold medal in the FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, scoring 25.6 and grabbing 10.1 rebounds, winning the MVP unanimously.

One other statistic of note that I want to point out. When you just look at his raw numbers on some draft sites and don’t do any research, you will see that Saric shot 50% from the free throw line this year. That was in the Adriatic League, where he went 20 for 40. Not exactly a large sample size. There was a period in January last season where Anthony Davis shot around 50% from the free throw line with the same amount of attempts, for instance. Again, I will reiterate that he was really uncomfortable there early in the season with his new team, in his new role. Most recently he went 23 for 27 (including 9 for 9 in Championship series) in the Croatian League as he led that team to the Championship in his usual role as a point forward. Looking back at all his data, he is a 68-74% free throw shooter historically. Not great, but not bad when you consider his age. Otto Porter was 75% over his two seasons at Georgetown, for example, so it’s not a big red flag when you look at all  the data as opposed to one very small piece.

6. How do those stats translate to the US game and what should we expect going forward?

This is the hardest part of the entire evaluation. Pekovic dominated statistically in similar leagues, but he was three years older and got far more touches than Saric. His team was built around him, while Saric was a complimentary piece. Goran Dragic had worse numbers in the Adriatic League at a similar age, and quite frankly, it is hard to find anybody who dominated Under 16, 18, and 19 International Leagues and Tournaments the same way that Saric has these past four years.

People say that rebounding always translates, and if that is the case, Saric should be one of the best rebounding small forwards in the league when he matures. In that game earlier this week where he helped his team win the Croatian League Championship, he grabbed more than 25% of the TOTAL rebounds available in that game. He has rebounded at an elite level in every league and against every level of competition. Assists are harder to gauge, primarily because they are so rare in the Euro game. Averaging more than 5 assists in the Adriatic league is akin to averaging 12+ in the NBA. For his position, Saric put up elite numbers, again relative to league counterparts.

The biggest red flag offensively across all leagues is his three point shooting. Whether it is in tournaments, in national competition, or in regional leagues, Saric hovers between 30 and 34 percent from deep. He takes about two per game and his form looks fine, he is just very inconsistent. And of course, the biggest worry is how will he perform against NBA caliber athletes on the defensive end? There is no real data available to predict that, but I will say that I have seen a lot of readers give the benefit of the doubt to prospects or free agent targets that they like, saying that they believe in Monty’s ability to teach defense and improve their capabilities within a team concept. I noticed far fewer people giving this kid that benefit of the doubt, and I’ve got to say that it feels like there is a lot of Euro bias.

And on that note, I just want to dispel a myth that I read all the time. I constantly see people saying they don’t want to take an International player because their bust rate is so much higher, but that is just not true. Euro players bust about 59% of the time. American college players? 50% of the time. In actuality, if you wanted to take the safest pick possible, send a memo to David Stern or Adam Silver saying you want players to be able to come straight from high school because they only bust 32% of the time.

The truth is that we are afraid of what we do not know. We all saw Trey Burke in the NCAA Tournament. We all watched Otto Porter carry a terrible Georgetown team or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope light it up against our beloved LSU Tigers. We didn’t see much of Dario, and that combined with this myth of high Euro bust rate scares us. But each prospect is unique. Don’t just throw them into a pile with other guys because you are ill informed. Do the research with an open, unbiased mind. If you do, I am confident you won’t be as scared of Saric as you will be of some other highly touted American players.

7. The Biggest Question: Why does Dell love him and how does he fit long term?

Remember how Monty harped on not having enough passes per game? He harped on a lot of things this season, but that was one of them and it is because both he and Dell believe in an offense that emphasises everybody touching the ball and everyone on the court making the right pass to get the best shot possible. Is it any surprise, then, that they are enamoured by the best passing frontcourt player in this draft? If the Spurs were somehow sitting here at 6, don’t you think Saric would be the exact kind of guy they would target? The strengths in his draft profile scream San Antonio Spurs – International player who has played and excelled against pro level competition since he was a teenager. Tremendously high IQ, love for the game, gifted passer, team player, with excellent versatility.

Some might say that his perimeter game is a concern, but his mechanics seem fine and the Spurs have taken worse shooters (Kawhi Leonard) and helped them develop that part of their game. Heck, Monty did that with Nicolas Batum as an assistant in Portland, so both Dell and Monty have confidence that they can make him more consistent from the perimeter over time. The real concern is on the defensive end, where Saric lacks the lateral quickness right now to keep up with NBA caliber athletes. On the positive side, he has the length to be disruptive on this end, but he will likely never be more than average laterally. Again, if the Pelicans believe in Saric’s intelligence, they might convince themselves that Ginobli was never a great individual defender either, but his savvyness and willingness to sacrifice his body and take a charge helped win games on that end of the court.

This is the big red flag with Saric, but what prospect in this draft is without one? I have heard talent evaluators say that they often fall into the trap of concerning themselves with what a prospect can’t do, and as a result they forget about all the things he can do. That is, until it is two or three years later and that guy is killing someone in the playoffs and the talent evaluator smacks himself and says, “How did I forget about those things that made him special?” You look at Dario Saric and he is without a peer in this draft with regard to his uniqueness. Almost any prospect in this class, you can point to someone in the NBA and say that he plays like that guy. If I ask you to name a 6’10” forward with ballhandling and passing skills like a point guard, the ability to rebound like a power forward, and the skills to take it to the hole and finish like a two guard, who can you name? Maybe Lamar Odom in his prime? I have also heard Toni Kukoc, or as a twitter follower said to me – “a SF version of Pau Gasol.”

Point is, Saric is perhaps the one guy in this class that brings a really unique dimension to the offensive end of the court. His versatility could allow you to put two shooting guards on the court with him and let him run point, or maybe you can go big and put him at the point with Gordon, Ryno, Davis, and another small forward, or heck even a center. Versititlity, passing, fundamentals, high IQ – that’s Spurs basketball. Coming from that organization, I think Dell and Monty want to make that the foundation of Pelicans basketball. And if that is the case, Dario Saric could very well be the pick.

On June 27th, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

[BREAKING: According to Chad Ford, Dario Saric is “leaning towards withdrawing from the draft.” For anybody who has followed Saric, this is no surprise. He has entered, withdrew, and then reentered all in a matter of two weeks. Then he stated he would need to be a lottery pick to come over, then he said it wouldn’t depend on where he was taken, that he would “try to return to Croatia.”

The timing is a bit curious with Dell having just flown over there. Maybe Dell told him and his people he didn’t think he was ready and couldn’t take him? Maybe his camp wants a promise and Dell said he can’t until he works other people out? Trey Burke is coming in 3 days before the withdrawal deadline. Maybe it is just a coincidence and Saric really does want more time to work on his game regardless of where he will be drafted. One thing I know is that Saric just became the hottest name in the draft and has teams right where he wants them. Now he can say “Promise me or I will withdraw.” Very smart

We don’t know how this will play out for sure, but personally I am excited – this whole draft and our Sixth Pick Tournament just got a lot more interesting! ]

[[ UPDATE to the UPDATE: Per a conversation I hade with Dario Saric’s agent Robert Jablan, Dario Saric WILL be withdrawing from the NBA Draft. Story here. ]]


  1. Papa Pelican

    June 6, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Keep Saric overseas and draft American.

    • bPre1

      June 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

      It’s these kinds of jingoistic views that can become detrimental in such an especially weak draft class. Don’t forget, the best PG in the league / best player on a team in the Finals isn’t American

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

        Draft and stash is waste of time.International talent has been weak over the years.Holding draft rights for players that might not play in the states 2 or 3 years make that never no thank you.

      • bPre1

        June 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

        So you’d prefer to draft a a draft a player who would, more than likely, be a just rotational bench player, just because he’s American? Sorry I don’t your logic here

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

        Who care what you don’t like.Im tired of the hype about international players.Some of those guys are rotational players now.Everyone wants an Manu,Dirk. or an Tony Parker people need to quit living off 10 years a go.International players don’t impact the NBA like they use to.

      • PelicanFever

        June 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

        Papa Pelican How much of Saric have you seen?

      • bPre1

        June 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Papa Pelican you’re right. Alexey Shved, Jonas Valanciunas, Nikola Vucević, Omer Asik, Nikola Pekovic, and Serge Ibaka have ZERO impact on the league…

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

        bPre1 Papa Pelican  
         neither tiago splitter, boris diaw, sefalosha, goran dragic, marcin gorcat, delfino, prigioni, bogut, nene, varejao, batum,  scola , gallinari, or anyone named gasol

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

        Enough to tell me he’s not worth drafting.I like Porter offense but is not much of an defender.I like Oladipo offense and defense.Saric is not an NBA  ready player now nor next season.

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        Besides the Gasol bros. how many others euro talent made an all star team since entering the NBA?

      • PelicanFever

        June 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        Papa Pelican So what does that consist of, a 5 minute highlight video?

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm

        I’ve watched the games the guy is soft and slow.On offense he could be an 10pts per gm guy but i’ll doubt he’ll be an 15 to 20pts per night guy.Can shoot beyond the arch.Don’t have no defense you would think he would  be an shot block or drawing up offensive fouls i just don’t see the hype from this fella.

      • PelicanFever

        June 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        Papa Pelican Parker, Ginobili, Dirk, AK-47, Peja, Divac, Schrempf, Smits, and Ilgauskas were all-stars Kukoc and Sabonis were never all stars but definitely should have been, especially Sabonis.

      • PelicanFever

        June 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Papa Pelican There’s a lot more to an offense than just points per game and more to defense than blocking shots. I have no idea which games you’ve watched either, as I’ve only been able to find 1 full game online and he’s definitely not soft.

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

        You’re talking about the past euro talent but the past 5 years euro talent have been weak.It’s an huge risk to draft euro players in the first or second rd.you’ve guys that might not play in the NBA for 2 to 5 years.The Pels have draft rights to an player that will never play in the NBA.

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

        I believe this unless the Pels have a plan for player like Saric or any other euro talent this season or next i would be sold on the notion but i just can’t see the Pels draft Saric that high at 6th,trade for another pick draft then Saric.I do like Schroder the German fella but the Pels look like they’re not into drafting an PG

      • PelicanFever

        June 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

        Papa Pelican Well when you asked you never specified in the last 5 years. It’s not really fair to use only the past 5 years as examples when many of these guys haven’t even hit their primes yet. Galinari, Ibaka, Batum, Jonas V., Vucevic, Kanter, are all really great players that have come in the past 5 years.

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

        Would be good to get one of those guys on our team.But look back some past drafts and see some player that never played in the NBA.

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        The Pels should trade for Bargnani.

      • bPre1

        June 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm

        Papa Pelican
        In the past 5 years their have been a bunch of American flops as well. (Joe Alexander, Cole Aldrich, Johnny Flynn, & Wes Johnson just to name a few off the top of my head). So based on your logic, we shouldn’t draft any North Americans either… You cant just lump together every player from entire continent, only look at the failures, and use that as your argument
        Since you an All-Star so bad, please show me any All-Stars in this draft

      • Caffeinedisaster

        June 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

        Papa Pelican I doubt Porter/Oladipo will fall to us.

  2. JayDogon

    June 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I love it and I’m all in on Saric now. I want us to draft him and keep him overseas for a year.

  3. Mkerrigan1

    June 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Very well written article. Very informative. It gave me a brand new perspective on Saric. I trust Dells opinion as he is the expert but I just want whoever we pick to step in right away and play!!

  4. Biasvasospasm

    June 6, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I’d be really upset if we went with Saric over, for instance, Otto Porter. But if it’s Len or Saric, I’d prefer Saric. On watching the limited highlights available, he’s extremely skilled and his handle, ability to take guys off the dribble, and most of all his passing ability are extremely rare for a guy his size. He makes passes that you’d only expect from a few guys in the league regardless of position and his potential as a secondary facilitator working on the block and hitting a cutter or whipping it across to the opposite corner for a 3 is very intriguing. He can also drive and kick, shows the ability to finish with either hand, and has a floater. He also isn’t a stiff as you’d expect from his scouting reports; he’s fluid and athletic and moves really well for a 6’10” player. I can’t speak to his defense at all, but athletically I don’t see him being a liability in the same way, for instance, that Greivis Vasquez is against PGs.

  5. Bigeauz

    June 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I was looking forward to this article, and find myself pretty much in agreement. I think he brings at least one, maybe two, legitimate elite skills to the table (passing-especially into, out of, and around the paint, and possibly rebounding), finishes well from the paint, and has some versatility that can create really interesting mismatches. He’s one of the only guys in the draft, and certainly the only big/wing, that can pass like that. I won’t lie, I won’t be upset at all if he is the pick. But I’ll also say sometimes it’s easier to fall in love with the guy you know less about, and there’s just less out there on him, i.e. defensive aptitude. So I’m trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to keep my man-crush in check.
    Even if he doesn’t have the lateral agility to guard well, I would think that a high game IQ and his length, inside a complimentary defensive system, could mitigate his shortcomings on that end. I will say that if Saric is the pick, defense at the Point becomes far and away our most important need (as opposed to now where it’s one of several most important needs). A center with soft hands would be really nice too.

    • Houpgarou

      June 6, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Our dream off-season, to me, still consists of acquiring Bledsoe and signing pek. Wouldn’t that be perfectly complimentary to this pick. Adding finishers and protecting his d by shoring up d on perimeter and behind him, specially if we kept gordon

      • Bigeauz

        June 6, 2013 at 11:34 am

        Houpgarou I try not to get to far ahead of myself, but that would be a pretty nice offseason IMHO. Bledsoe is obviously a great get, and while Pek isn’t my ideal 5, he seems like a Monty type of player, and would be an upgrade.

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Bigeauz Houpgarou 
        “its dangerous to dream”, I hear you.  I find it unlikely we are going to land bledsoe, still think he’s orlando bound, and am warm but not hot about pek because of what it would cost would we be able to land him.  just couldn’t help thinking of adding that complementary trio as I read your post (fivesome really as the defense of gordon and the big easy are a huge part of that equation).
        in reality I think we are more likely to upgrade via some trade that dell has concocted that i haven’t even considered than to pay one or both of those guys top dollar.

  6. MikeDatTiger

    June 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

    One problem you don’t discuss is fan perception. Stashing our #6 pick overseas sends the message that we’re tanking again. While that may be smart (assuming we keep our 2014 pick), I’m not sure how pleased the fans are going to be about it.

    • Bigeauz

      June 6, 2013 at 9:23 am

      MikeDatTiger I thought about that too, but really, any rookie we take this year isn’t going to get us to the playoffs. If we increase our wins it will be because we signed the right free agents. A nice free agent splash and no one will care where Dario is for year one.

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

        Bigeauz MikeDatTiger  
        it’s not about the playoffs or even the w’s.  fans just want something exciting to gravitate to, even when it’s a young talented player we want to watch develop.  It would be a disappointment to go to the arena and not have a chance to watch our 6th pick

  7. SnowofSX2

    June 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Honestly only way I get Saric is if we get another pick in this draft. If he is there whenever the Mavs are picking (since they are wanting to trade that pick) or even the Trail Blazers, then I would try and make a trade for a future pick or if the Mavs really want to give away the pick a future 2nd rounder.

    • nolafredo

      June 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

      SnowofSX2 Agreed. The Pelicans need someone who can help next season, even if it’s off the bench.  Of course, the ideal dream would be to land a Lillard (a starter that impacts the team from Day 1) or a Barnes (a player that grows in importance as the season progresses).  
      Landing Saric at a later pick allows the Pelicans to take their choice at #6 (Burke, McCollum, etc) to be that player and gives Saric the chance to stay in Europe if his game requires one more year of seasoning before making the crossing.  It also decreases the pressure on Saric to deliver the moment he steps on the court.  He can have his adaptation pains and grow at his pace.

  8. twowatt8

    June 6, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Michael, I really respect your research and opinions regarding the draft, especially after last year’s coverage. This is an outstanding article. Can you offer any additional insight as to how you conducted your research and came to this conclusion? I think I understand what you say about the emphasis on passing and Monty’s comments on drafting for need, but what else has led you to such a confident prediction? How much do you agree (or disagree) with what Dell is presumably thinking?

    • Michael McNamara

      June 6, 2013 at 9:45 am

      twowatt8 I kinda want to let this articles sit on its own and let people start to form their own opinions and do their own research. I have my opinions, of course, and will have a future piece that lays out my thoughts on Saric and other prospects, along with the podcast of course. 
      As for the research, it was hard. Harder than any piece I have ever written, and I write a lot. A lot of digging, a lot of piecing things together from multiple places. A lot of google translator on foreign pieces. 
      I can see why it is hard for people to fall in love with International players – its so hard to get the basic information that is at our fingertips with American prospects.

      • twowatt8

        June 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

        I can tell this took a lot of work. Thanks for the response– I look forward to your next article.

      • 504ever

        June 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

        Michael McNamara
        If you do that podcast, I’d prefer it be smaller and more narrowly focused.  Listening to an hour plus podcast to find 10-15 minutes about a subject is time consuming.  Maybe you can make a longer podcast but split it into smaller podcasts the are monothematic?  (I’ve basically given up on the podcasts because they are so long, and have gotten longer in the last year.)

      • Michael McNamara

        June 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

        504ever Michael McNamara Thanks for the feedback. We have discussed this possibilty in the past. We are hoping to maybe break them up on the site, where you can listen to particular topics. It is just so time consuming right now, but we will get there

  9. yaboytonez

    June 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

    http://www.sbnation.com/2013/6/5/4399138/nba-draft-2013-dario-saric-europe Dario staying in Europe another year if drafted!!

  10. Houpgarou

    June 6, 2013 at 10:52 am

    1. Actually, his words were much stronger than “try to stay in croatia next year” , he said he’s not coming.  Point well taken about saying what needs to be said at the time, but I’m just saying
    ***2. I can’t be on board with leaving him overseas at all. We have the best coaches here, the best competition, and all the minutes that can be offered so he can get as many reps as he can handle.  A couple more years of playing down to the competition and not necessarily getting the constant attention he’ll get from coaches here is not going to accelerate his value as a ballplayer

    3.  curiosity:  would he be the highest pick for  european  besides rubio?

    • nolafredo

      June 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Houpgarou I think Andrea Bargnani beats Rubio since he went #1/#1.

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

        Good point! Btw, how did that work out?

      • nolafredo

        June 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

        Houpgarou Toronto would tell you they are happy with…15.2 career ppg on 43.7% FG and 4.8 career rpg from a PF/C.  
        Then they’d tell you about that beachfront property they want to sell you in Montreal.

    • Houpgarou

      June 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

      btw the second link is to a podcast from some dudes who watch a ton of european ball, and they do a big segment on dario, worth listening to

    • Papa Pelican

      June 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Unless a team is willing to buyout his contract give him more minutes and the starting job.

    • Michael McNamara

      June 6, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Houpgarou That is an old, incorrect translation. I emailed people at eurobasket for the exact translation and he said, word for word, that he will try to play in Croatia next year. The article I linked is the proper translation. 
      As for asking whether he would be the highest Euro pick since Rubio, I don’t see how that matters. Why are we lumping an entire country together? That would be like me asking who was the last great ACC big man to be drafted top 5. Who cares? What does that have to do with anything? 
      Evaluate the player, not the country he is from. And by the way, when you really research the regions, you will see that the different regions produce vastly different players. The Croatian League and Adriatic League produces guys more like Pekovic, not Bargnani. 
      Again, I am not being defensive, but we gotta step up our level of discourse, past the level where we just lump all guys in to one group because of where they are from.

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Michael McNamara

        like I noted, curiousity, I wasn’t trying to make a point or argument.  don’t think a little trivia diminishes the level of discourse on the site.

        my argument is in regards as to whether or not we should leave him abroad if we do indeed draft him.  I’ve made a parallel argument for kids being justified in wanting to leave school early instead of returning for another year of “seasoning” .  You get more seasoned by having your own personal coach responsible for your development as well as getting reps at the level you aspire to play at.
        to this regard, I don’t think the ginobili comparison is fair one, as the spurs were competing for championships when they drafted him.  If they didn’t feel he was 100% ready, the couldn’t afford to give him minutes or he would jeopardize those aspirations.  we have all the minutes that saric is ready for, in addition to have him in practice, learning the system at a young age.

      • Michael McNamara

        June 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

        Houpgarou Michael McNamara All fair arguments. I was actually speaking more to Papa Pelican but it looks like someone took down his offensive comment- thankfully. 
        I think Valanciunas is a more apt comparison. Personally, I wish we could “stash” college players. Pick them whenever we want and leave them in school if they so choose. I would take Marcus Smart at 6 this year and tell him to come out whenever he feels he is ready. 
        The Ginobli comparison was brought up because of Dell and Monty’s familiarity with him and how the Spurs handled him. Remember, that is what they are striving for. We all have horrible memories of the Shinn years, but those two guys are all about excellence and truly expect this franchise to get there

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Michael McNamara Houpgarou  
         regarding ginobili, my initial response would have been that, in the 13 years (!?!?) since manu was drafted, the league has changed so much in terms of the quantity and responsibilities of assistant coaches in the nba.  As I thought about it though, recently, nando de colo and splitter were drafted by SA and left abroad, so even despite those decisions possibly being made for financial consideration or because they’re still maintaining those championship aspirations, their model does not seem to have changed.

        speaking of the spurs model,  the part of this piece that spoke to me the most  was the weight they put on bigs being able to move the ball, and saric’s value in that light.  I am ecstatic to hear that delmonte prioritizes ball movement because that’s the kind of ball that I love to watch (the spurs this playoff season have been a joy to behold), and that point definitely gives saric a big bump on my big board.

      • Michael McNamara

        June 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

        Houpgarou Michael McNamara Yeah, Monty said he would like to see about 300 passes per game. He said there were many nights last year when we didn’t get to half that number.

      • usnfish

        June 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

        Michael McNamara Houpgarou I like this because it leads me to believe the overall offensive strategy is to allow ball and player movement to result in the best available shot rather than allowing the best available player create scoring opportunities.  At its core, a very San Antonio Spurs philosophy.

      • Papa Pelican

        June 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        I deleted my comment for the crybabies.I stand by what i said..

      • nolafredo

        June 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

        Michael McNamara Houpgarou So you want us to avoid lumping players, but then lump the players from the Croatian and Adriatic Leagues under Pekovic?  Hold on there.
        But to your point, Michael, I think there will always be apprehension about players jumping from one league to another.  I see it all the time as a soccer fan. The same sport isn’t played the same way or coached the same way or refereed the same way from league to league.  That’s why so many teams go after younger players — more time for them to adapt and develop according to your needs.  Even so, it’s always a risk to ask a player to move not just from one level of play to another one, but to uproot and adapt to a different country, culture and climate.  
         Should any of that put the Pelicans off of Saric? Of course not. But given all we know of him are reports and the odd YouTube clip, it’s not a surprise that some prefer the better known commodities that are coming out of college.

      • Houpgarou

        June 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm

        nolafredo Michael McNamara Houpgarou  
        On the plus side, the dudes on the euroball podcast I linked above said saric has playes his best ball beside and against american competion so his game is maybe suited to the nba style

  11. Edbballin504

    June 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Excellent work as usual! Very informative! I would be more than happy with this pick.

  12. lsutigers33

    June 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

    nice report, I just can’t see us taking him at 6.  If dell loves this kid, hopefully a SG slides and Minny will want to move up from 9-6 draft olidipo and give us D Will.  Work out a deal with Dallas for 13 and SM and that will bridge the hole for a year.
    Of course, if Olidipo slides, what do we do…

  13. PelicanFever

    June 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    If Saric is the pick, and he does stay an extra year in Europe, then I would really like us to re-sign Al-Farouq Aminu. We will need someone to play the position for the upcoming season and I would like to see if Al-Farouq can continue to improve. I’d rather be giving the minutes to him than a SF that had already peaked and we could get any year. Our future starting SF would be Saric of course, but Aminu  could fill in really nicely off the bench for Saric and perhaps even play together at the 3/4 on occasion.

  14. JabberWalker

    June 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

    After Michael’s piece after the lotto I attempted to find more info on Saric.  I would love to be able to watch a few games of his but all the clips I find are highlights and grainy footage.  I love the pragmatic thinking (rare in the sports world) and the lack of jumping on the logical piggyback of other writer’s opinions.  I always find it amusing when I see people saying who the Pels should draft.  I think it’s clear that Dell knows better (in Dell we trust) and whatever he decides I will have to assume that he made the best choice available to him.  The only thing we can do is try to speculate what a player will be like using more limited knowledge than the GM.
    That said international prospects still scare me.  There is an extra dimension of unknown with them and although I’m not advocating passing up on the guy you want, knowing that the game is played so differently that guys like Jan Vesley can look like standout prospects (draft express likened him to Blake Griffin and AK47).  If drafted 6th I will again have faith in Dell, but it does worry me that there seem (to me and most people which doesn’t necessarily mean correct) to be better prospects that would still be available.
    Let’s go Deltron!

    • PelicanFever

      June 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Here is a link to the U-18 finals where Saric scored 39 points. Full game in good quality. Enjoy!

      • usnfish

        June 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm

        PelicanFever JabberWalker Concerning moment (thus far)
        14:50 – Saric steals an inbound pass, breaks away, has an open left hand and instead goes up with the right for a dunk, is fouled, misses the dunk.  Misses one of the free throws.

      • usnfish

        June 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

        PelicanFever JabberWalker Of course…
        Afterwards Croatia gets the ball back, misses a layup, Saric gets the rebound, the put back AND an And 1 (which he makes)

      • usnfish

        June 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        PelicanFever JabberWalker Finishing the first half.  My concern out of this tape thus far is Saric settling for long jump shots outside the flow of the offense (and not hitting them).  Early on his post game appears to be based solely on superior size and strength, back players down.  Then he opened up and hit a pretty jump shot off the glass.  Beyond those he’s taken some poor shots outside, especially those off the dribble.  Flopped unnecessarily in transition and not demonstrated much of anything defensively.  
        That could be a result of the player he is guarding not being a threat but when Saric has been involved in a pick and roll defensively I have not liked what I’ve seen.  He has sagged off, conceded ground to the ball handler and given up wide open looks.  I haven’t seen the effort I would like on the defensive glass in terms of finding a body and boxing out.  
        I do like the hustle in transition on offense to get good position and a favorable match up on the block.  But at times when he’s on the weak side he just sticks to the block instead of creating space by moving to the high post or the weak side corner.  Once when fronted he sealed his man, the ball rotated to the top of the key and it resulted in an easy lob and layup, beautiful basketball and recognition.  His ball handling ability is miles ahead of our current SF crop.

      • usnfish

        June 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

        PelicanFever JabberWalker For instance –
        52:06 – Doesn’t box out his man, eventually beats him for the rebound.  Brings up the ball, works off one pick and roll on the right side, settles for a missed 18 foot jump shot.  
        A very Shabazz Muhammad kind of sequence.

  15. usnfish

    June 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    This article is absolutely excellent.  Great job Michael, the work you put in is truly appreciated.
    I would prefer McLemore, Porter, and Burke ahead of Saric; even after digesting the information above.  But I no longer believe that Saric is a reach.  I have no concerns about the pick not contributing right away (if Saric remains in Europe), I am realistic and no pick available in this draft turns the Pelicans into contenders next year anyway.  I have McLemore, Porter, and Burke ahead on my big board because I think they have the greatest likelihood to being solid NBA players or better.  We can disagree on opinion and still remain quite civil.  
    I understand the reasoning of some saying the Pelicans must select someone who will play this year because it is the first year of the Pelicans and the team needs to build the fan base.  I really and truly do.  But people posting on blogs about teams can generally be assumed to be fans already, that reasoning is more for the front office, especially on the financials side.  Not for us as fans to truly be concerned with.  If the team’s ability to remain in New Orleans was tied to attendance benchmarks I would lend that argument more of an ear.  Luckily that is no longer the case.

  16. Houpgarou

    June 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    total non sequitur: if pj hairston decides to leave school because of arrest related consequences, he would be the perfect acquisition via second round pick or rookie free agency to bring along as a possible d and 3 wing in the future.  his grit and competitive fire as he thrived when asked to guard the 4 spot as a 2 guard was eye openinghttp://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/9349115/pj-hairston-north-carolina-tar-heels-arrested-drug-charges

  17. jsl05

    June 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Fran Fraschilla has mentioned character issues with Saric. Can you tell me about them?

    • cdude9590

      June 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      jsl05 he got fined 1000 euros for staying out too late before a game.

      • jsl05

        June 6, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        cdude9590 jsl05 Where did you learn this from?

      • macs21

        June 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

        jsl05 cdude9590 It was in an article on ESPN about a week ago. Didn’t seem like a big deal at the time..

  18. Mr. West

    June 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Very very well written article. You covered basically everything I’d wondered about Saric (Decent player comparisons, FT concerns and issues with whether he’d stay in Europe for a year) and really seemed like you’d done your homework.

  19. BowToTheBill23

    June 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    It’s just McNamara’s luck that the day he writes this excellent piece, Chad Ford reports that Saric is leaning toward withdrawing from the draft. Now he has been wishy washy so this could just be a phase, but he has till June 17 to withdraw. If he does withdraw, I’ll be a little disappointed. Saric looks like a guy who could average 4-6 assists and 7-10 rebounds in his prime as a small forward. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think only Lebron did that this season. But, assuming we’re drafting 10-16, next year, he could be on our radar again. Still, great piece Michael.

    • jsl05

      June 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      BowToTheBill23 Correct me if I’m wrong, but did you just compare Saric to Lebron James?

      • Biasvasospasm

        June 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        I really think his passing talent might be near that tier, and he’s a quality rebounder. Obviously, he’s not on the same planet as an athlete, but if I had to pick a guy in this draft to average 7+ boards and 5+ assists, Saric is probably your best bet.

      • jsl05

        June 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm

        I agree; I was just trying to act like Stephen A.

  20. fearthepelicans

    June 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Saric is not my first choice – I’d still choose one of the top 3 PG over him – but after reading this article, I would not be disappointed if we took him.

  21. jsl05

    June 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Michael McNamara I’m not trying to offend you, but how and from where do you get your information?  For example, you seem to know that Dell is not interested in Victor Oladipo.

    • jsl05

      June 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Michael McNamara Sorry for the bad link, but here is the tweet: “https://twitter.com/McNamara247
      https://twitter.com/chris_wuzhere So hard to tell. Put it this way, there is one guy I was sure that Dell would love that he doesnt even like. I was shockedhttps://twitter.com/chris_wuzherehttps://twitter.com/chris_wuzhere/status/342728090570604546
      https://twitter.com/McNamara247 that’s gotta be Oladipo. Right?https://twitter.com/McNamara247https://twitter.com/McNamara247/status/342728192395710464
      https://twitter.com/chris_wuzhere I didn’t say it, you did

      • Michael McNamara

        June 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        jsl05 Michael McNamara I never said who it was. All I said is that I was told that Dell didn’t love this particular guy. The info came from someone I trust who got it from a Pelicans employee. I take everything with a grain of salt, and know that even if this intel is 100% true, Dell can change his mind at any moments notice. 
        The point is, however, that Dell can shock us and I think that makes all this fun. I was kinda bummed last year when I knew AD and Rivers would be the picks. Kinda bummed these last few days with everything pointing so heavily to Saric. Excited now that it could be wide open again!

      • jsl05

        June 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm

        Thanks for telling us everything you hear; it is much appreciated. I am prepared for the unexpected on the 27th. I think we all think that we know who is a “Dell/Monty guy,” but we really don’t.

      • Michael McNamara

        June 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        jsl05 To be honest, I dont tell 10% of the stuff I hear. People have criticized me in the past for passing info along. They get their hopes up, then it doesnt happen, and all of a sudden I am a jerk who makes stuff up.
        As if I am going to write 500,000 words of analysis every year and then just randomly make stuff up for fun. 
        Anyway, I try to stay away from passing stuff along now. Twitter is less formal, so sometimes I do it there. Keep it separate from the site.

  22. Michael McNamara

    June 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Ford said teams would be devastated if Saric pulls out. Several have him top 5 or 7. This is a brilliant move by Saric’s camp. The threat of him pulling out has made him the hottest name in the draft. Gonna milk that

    • jsl05

      June 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Chad Ford’s take on video

      • 504ever

        June 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

        Ford says the reason Saric is pulling out is to play another year in Europe.  That doesn’t make sense.  He can stay in the draft and play in Europe next year, so that can’t be it.  Maybe it is maneuvering for a promise but, if it is, it’s a dangerous game.  As Ford points out, next years draft will be stronger so maybe Saric is drafted lower if he enters next year’s draft.

      • Michael McNamara

        June 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm

        504ever jsl05 It is a smart tactic in my opinion. I think he can get a promise if he threatens to withdraw from the draft. The question is, what will Dell say if Saric says he will stay in the draft if they promise to take him AND let him stay in Croatia for next year?

  23. ecolli

    June 7, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Great article I have a question concerning the comment about Monty wanting more passing.  You talked about the possibility of getting Rondo on couple of occasions and while I agree that if you have any chance of obtaining a star go for it but I wonder if Rondo would fit with the system Monty wants to build.  I just remember watching the Celtics after the Rondo injury and they passed the ball so much more and if I am correct it improved there offensive efficiency (I don’t have the numbers but I remember hearing something along those lines). When Rondo wasn’t injured most the passing was by him and the ball didn’t move as much. I am curious how he would mesh with Saric specifically as both are guys that love compass and have the offense run through them? If Dell got one would the other be out of the question?

  24. Pingback: Per Dario Saric’s Agent: Decision is Made, Saric will Withdraw from Draft | New Orleans Pelicans | BourbonStreetShots.com

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