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The risk of drafting Dario Saric


(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)

Dario Saric, a 20-year-old Croatian point-forward, is not sure he will enter June’s NBA draft but if he does, the Adriatic League MVP wants to be picked by the Celtics or Lakers.

The 6-foot-10 point-forward averaged 16.3 points and 9.5 rebounds for Cibona Zagreb and led them to a championship last season but his agent, Misko Raznatovic, hinted in April Saric may put the NBA on hold.

“At this moment he believes that is better to stay in Europe for a season or two, to get a taste of the Euroleague, and then to enter the NBA when he has more experience,” Raznatovic told DraftExpress.

If Saric does make the jump there are some concerns how his game will translate to the NBA.

[Saric] played almost exclusively at power forward the past two seasons, and even if he’s gotten stronger, it will be difficult for him to match up inside the paint with some of the stronger players he’ll encounter at that position in the NBA. Opposing players shot 49% from the field against Saric in post-up situations this season according to Synergy Sports Technology.

“[Saric] looks almost statue-like sometimes on defense,” NESN.com Celtics beat writer Ben Watanabe said on his podcast. “To me, that’s the biggest question.”

Will the Boston Celtics (sixth overall pick) or the Los Angeles Lakers (seventh overall pick) be willing to gamble a lottery pick on a European who could require more work to get NBA-ready than Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Kentuck’s Julius Randle or Indiana’s Noah Vonleh?

Plus, the track record of Croatian forwards making it in the NBA is not great. Just three have had an impact at the NBA level.

Player Tm G MP PTS TrueSh% TRB AST STL BLK
Toni Kukoc CHI 294 8105 17.3 55.6% 5.9 5.2 1.4 0.5
Peja Stojakovic SAC 268 8328 18.6 56.9% 5.3 2.2 1.1 0.2
Dino Radja BOS 224 7308 18.4 53.8% 9.3 1.8 1 1.4
All values per 36 minutes in first four seasons, via basketball-reference.com

Seems like a big gamble on a player trying to pick his spot.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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