Saric Just What The Doctor Ordered – The View From Mt. Airy 8-10-16

Dario+Saric+1200x800+on+Gasol+Getty

@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Maybe you saw it. Maybe you didn’t.

Hey, you could have been one of the millions whose TV and attention was trained on the Olympic Air Rifle Finals. This was just a preliminary round basketball game between a Croatian team not targeted for Gold and a Spanish five we all know very well. But here in Philadelphia every eye was trained on Dario Saric, and to a lesser extent, new Sixers’ point guard Sergio Rodriguez.

It’s been two years since the 76ers’ trade on draft day of Elfrid Peyton to Orlando for the rights to Croatian forward Dario Saric as part of Sam Hinkie’s build for the future plan. He was described to Philadelphia basketball fans as one part Larry Bird, one part Dirk Nowitzki, and a little bit of Sixers all-timer Bobby Jones. Then the seemingly interminable wait began. Was he coming at all? Would he buy out that multi million dollar contract in Turkey to come in to the NBA and play for the slotted 1.3 million that comes with being the 12 pick in the draft, leaving millions on the table behind.

For two dreadful seasons, the 76ers faithful were teased as the team bottomed out, finishing the 2016 season with an abominable 10-72 record. The now rebellious 76ers’ fans began to see Saric as part and parcel of the problem, and just as much to blame for that disaster as those on the active roster, and an extension of the failure and embarrassment of the designed losing which grated horribly upon the psyche of a proud fan base as they endured record breaking losing including 27 consecutive losses that seemed to erase the memory of the franchise that was once so laden with Hall of Fame talent such as Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks and the legendary Doctor, Julius Winfield Erving.

The final 14 seconds versus Spain changed everything. Croatia led by a point after Saric made one of two free throws to give his side the lead. Spain sets up the final shot and it wasn’t a surprise to see them get the ball to 6-time NBA ALL STAR and 2-time NBA CHAMPION Pau Gasol. What was surprising was the anticipation, footwork and quickness of Dario Saric as he glided across the lane to reject Gasol and his jump hook at the buzzer preserving the win. Does that mean he’s NBA ready defensively or prepared to be a year one stopper? No. But it shows the intellect, instinct and desire that is coachable to the extent that you can expect Saric to be an immediately contributing rotation player. Combine that with the wealth of bigs and seeming scoring options that are currently on the young 76ers’ roster and you see the opportunities presented to Dario Saric as he embarks on his rookie season this fall. You could see it as he added 7 rebounds and 6 assists to the stat line versus Spain on an afternoon when his shot wasn’t falling (1-7 FG) for him, including a luscious no-look behind-the-back dish for a basket.

What the Doctor ordered on the last 76ers championship team was Bobby Jones. Long, lean sixth man, who left skin on every NBA hardwood and was able to run the floor, add a near double-double nightly, yet whose biggest contribution was always defensive energy and a dash of instincts and smarts that more than compensated for a big shot or flashy offense. Can Dario Saric be that player? I truly believe he can. Doc had Andrew, Moses, Mo and Bobby. Ben Simmons now has Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Sergio Rodriguez, Nerlens Noel, and now Dario Saric. Young and talented, with great expectations but all similarly unproven. But for one moment in Rio, Dario Saric was JUST what the Doctor ordered.
With the plethora of talent assembled in Philadelphia now, and the 76ers in possession of both the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers first round picks in the 2017 NBA draft (both lottery bound and unprotected), Dario Saric just has to be coachable, competitive, and learn the NBA game as a cog in the future of the franchise. Being Bobby Jones would be more than enough.

That’s the View from high atop Mt. Airy…….

The View From Mt. Airy – NBA Draft Preview 2016

Ben Simmons, potential #1 overall pick
Ben Simmons, potential #1 overall pick

@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

IT’S DRAFT NIGHT!

The most heated draft in recent NBA history is now a few hours away. If you know Phil at all, than you must know already I like it new and shiny, whether right or wrong or even in working order. This NBA draft gives me all that and more and this final few hours will be my Ritalin, my Adderall acquired suspiciously from a former BALCO operative.

What’s not to love?

You’ve got LeBron James Jr. in Ben Simmons.

The Phenom.

Questions?

Yup.

How much did he care as me-marked time at LSU waiting for his NBA destiny? Why couldn’t he accomplish at least a visit to the NCAA tournament if he’s truly the “next big thing?”

Projected at #2 is Brandon Ingram out of the storied program of the man who invented basketball, as he’d have the world believe. For me the Ingram choice goes beyond talent and directly to his alma mater. I’ll wait as you make a list of the great NBA players from Duke taken in the first round. You should be finished. However, if we assign the same quiz to the “bust” container then pack a lunch. May not scare you, but I believe an NBA GM has to have a moment of pause as he ponders precedent with the value of the 2nd overall. Ultimately the pick by the Lakers will be Mr. Ingram, barring a bone jarring trade by the 76ers.

Trade? Yup.

According to my Sixers’ source, despite their open declaration Tuesday that they would be selecting Simmons with the 1st overall pick, there is a scenario brewing where Philadelphia (who own six 1st round picks over the next 2 drafts) are being courted by multiple teams. These deals all involve the 76ers ending up with 2 of the first 5 selections tonight. Sixers will not, if they acquired the 2nd of two first fives, select Simmons. The whispers in my ear say they would select Ingram 1 and either Kris Dunn or Buddy Hield depending on how high the second pick is. The preference obviously would be Dunn and that trade partner would have to be the Celtics, who openly covet Jahlil Okafor yet seem to on the verge of sending that pick to Utah.

That enough intrigue for you? I got more. There are some x factors in the top of the draft that will make for scintillating, cell phone ringing, Twitter exploding moments. Who is really the 3rd pick? My heart screams Jaylen Brown as the default 3rd. Yet many NBA scouts believe there is not a possibility Dunn goes beyond three. Phoenix takes Brown without hesitation and tier 1 of the 2016 NBA DRAFT is complete.

Buddy Hield kicks off tier-2. After his selection you got to own a crystal ball. Exactly why today will be an amazing run of NBA TV. There will be exactly zero moments that allow for an exhale. Who drafts the man child Thon Maker? What top ten projections will slide precipitously out of the lottery and into the green room of misery? Who wears the most outlandish suit/outfit? What player will we ignore in the bottom ten of round 1 who becomes Paul George or the emergent beast for whom simplicity demands I identify simply as “the freak?” Denzel Valentine scares me and I want it on record. Taurean Prince too. Both will be drafted tonight in round 1.

Tier 3 seems simple. Dragan Bender seems slightly overvalued to me. Those who profess to know have him in their first 5 but I don’t see a fit. Most likely he belongs at 8 to Sacramento and he well should. Tier three will also feature the Celtics taking over the draft with 4 of the first 31 selections barring a trade. One of those picks will be an enigmatic Skal Labissiere who seems to grow in stature despite a resume that belies this late love. Finally, what does the Hawks trade of Jeff Teague do to tier 3 as they also own pick 21 and this is why tonight will be “Must See TV.”

Finally, what makes the NBA DRAFT 2016 the spectacle I truly believe it will be is that, by the time you read this, things will have changed. Again.

N The Zone promises to have a full recap and breakdown of NBA Draft 2016 online and on air. Stay tuned.

The View From Mt. Airy: NBA Finals Thoughts 06-02-2016

Larry_O'Brien_trophy

@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

This could be the most compelling NBA Finals in recent history. It certainly sets up that way. Look at the components and you’ve got more storylines than a desperate pool reporter at a SUPER BOWL Media Day. The ARMY of King James advancing westward to finally acquire the one parcel they have not owned. Standing between them and the GRAIL they so desperately desire? Only the anointed one,  Stephen Curry, who seems to many, to have already snatched the torch and set up shop in the office of the NBA’s very best player and the most talented aggregate of players since the San Antonio Spurs of the late 90’s. Deep, smart and athletic as anyone could want this Warriors team can excel in so many facets of the game that they win when not running on “all pistons” simply because the ones are functioning to their expectations and limits are just that much more efficient and lethal than anywhere else in the National Basketball Association.

The Finals have though seemingly gone the way of the World Series and Super Bowl. It has become such a big show that the games seem tertiary to the spectacle around them….it seems that just as in Major League Baseball, the conference finals have become the battles to survive and you can almost see the two teams exhale when they accomplish their trip to the Finals.

Like it or not if you’re LeBron James and you’ve now been in the NBA Finals 6 consecutive years, win or lose, how much damage can a loss do to his legacy…..there are always going be people like me who will pile on simply any reason but NOTHING he can do will change that. We just don’t, for a myriad of reasons like LeBron James. He could fly to Mars and back we all would still have something critical to say.

Having said all of that, flip the script.

The Warrriors come into these 2016 NBA FINALS with a mandate to win. We’ve all listened (me with total disbelief) and watched as the regular season became a marchilto “all time” greatness ceremony for Curry as his team obliterated opponents with what is simply, the deepest, most talented roster in the league. After rebounding from a seemingly fatal 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, are they emotionally prepared to hit the reset button against a healthier Cavaliers team then they’ve ever faced off against? A Cleveland squad that is most definitely on a crusade to cap and validate the return of their basketball child and savior. Do the Warriors have to win to avoid having their historic 73 win season invalidated and used as an asterisk and a tavern joke? What becomes of their legacy and is this record breaking season forever tarnished beyond repair is the question? I believe that answer is yes, yes and of course they have to win. Problem is? I don’t think they have the gas and if the Cavaliers get a split at Golden State this series is in over in 5……either way, I believe the Cavaliers win a game 7 leaving the Warriors damaged but respected for their fortitude under fire. LeBron wins. Cleveland dances. #Finally

P.S. Congratulations to my Philadelphia 76ers on the acquisition of the #1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA DRAFT. Don’t do anything silly. You have picks 1 and then both 24 and 26…..don’t screw it up. Take Ben Simmons. Combine those two late picks and move up if necessary to grab Thon Maker. Finally, the next “fan” who suggests signing Derozan to a max deal of 107 million dollars I promise you’re getting the West Philly Lariat and a BrainBuster. You’ve been warned.

THE KING HAS SPOKEN…OF MT. AIRY THAT IS.

Follow me on Twitter: @MtAiryPhil

Follow @NTheZoneShow as well