|Full Court Press: C’s consider draft and stash, legend of Togo Palazzi continues with Zach Auguste||06.11.16 at 7:51 pm ET|
When the Philadelphia 76ers and then-GM Sam Hinke entered the 2014 NBA draft, they had their sights set on a 6-foot-10 Croatian forward by the name of Dario Saric. The Orlando Magic drafted him twelfth overall and the Sixers made a deal with with the Magic to drop down two spots, acquire Saric, a 2015 second-round pick and a first-round selection in 2017. And all it cost them was Elfrid Payton.
The move was one of the few bright spots of the Hinke era in Philadelphia, as it produced something for the future.
But the deal, an hour after Philly drafted Joel Embiid third overall, did something else. It asked the Philadelphia fans to put their faith in the “draft and stash” approach to the lottery. Just days earlier, Saric signed a multi-year deal in Turkey, a deal he may finally break this offseason to finally come to the states and play for the Sixers. Saric was stashed away in Europe developing his skills as a 19-year-old power forward. It’s very debatable as to whether Saric would have been ready to step in and contribute significantly right away, even on a team that had precious little talent.
The Saric case is not the typical “draft and stash” example, as NBA teams usually employ this strategy for second-round draft picks whom they don’t feel command NBA contracts. The Celtics have five picks in the second round, and certainly could use this approach multiple times if they feel they can reach an agreement with a player and his representative on what’s best for the player’s career in the long term, saving NBA roster spots while holding their future playing rights.
Could the Celtics take Dragan Bender with the third overall pick and allow him to continue to play in Europe? Perhaps. It really depends on how ready they feel he is to enter the NBA after not even playing that much this season for Maccabi in Israel.
“I think that all of those things are on the table and we need to look at all of those,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said this week. “I think Brad [Stevens] asked in his contract extension to not have eight rookies this year. I think that was specifically written in.”
All kidding aside, would the Celtics avoid drafting a player like Bender, if he doesn’t want to stay overseas and would rather play in the NBA now?
“If we really like the guy, no, that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker,” Ainge added. [Draft-and-stash talks] will be finalized kind of after you draft a kid, sit down and determine a plan of action, but those discussions go on all the time, year-round, contract situations, age, different levels of maturity and in the players’ game, all those come into play. But it’s a partnership with the player, his representatives and the team to try to make the best decisions for him.”
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Croatia F Dario Saric||06.05.14 at 9:00 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.
Weight: 223 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats (Adriatic League): 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 58.9 TS%
Scouting report: Fans of the NBA are scarred forever over the growing number of international busts during the last decade, but they should feel confident knowing Saric is a relatively safe pick. He does so many of the “little things” well, even though he lacks the elite upside of some others.
Only 20 years old, Saric led Cibona to the Adriatic League championship, capturing league and finals MVP honors in the process. This success is unheard of, and he likely would be considered one of the consensus top picks had he done that in March Madness.
Saric’s greatest attribute is his playmaking potential. He’s arguably the most versatile player in the draft because of his ability to score from inside, mid-range and the perimeter. His 3-pointer is still improving, but he added the “hop” (a technique allowing shooters to get shots off more quickly) to his arsenal, which improving his productivity.
Already an efficient scorer inside, he has the ability to get to the hole with either hand. Most impressive is Saric’s ability to pass off the dribble, a trait that could translate well in the pick-and-roll heavy NBA.
Even though Saric’s average athleticism and short wingspan will hold him back from ever becoming a true superstar, he has all the physical and mental tools necessary to be on a tier right below that. Of course, he must first stay in the draft for that to happen, as there is a chance he withdraws before the June 16 deadline.
How he fits: Saric has go-to scoring potential and is a proven winner. If the Celtics decide to go international with one of their draft picks, he could be the best player available.
CelticsBlog: Adriatic League final four analysis: Dario Saric leads Cibona to championship victory
Video: Here is a video scouting report of Dario Saric.
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