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

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@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: Harrison Barnes To The Sixers 07-1-16

 
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Seriously.

Harrison Barnes makes absolute sense for the Sixers.

I hear you screaming.

“Look at his performance in the NBA Finals. What did he do to deserve or even earn a max contract as an NBA free agent?”

“Won’t he just be in the way?”

“Why would you add a Golden State Warrior who arguably failed on the biggest stage as a complimentary player to this array of young talent we lost 200 games to acquire? ARE YOU  HIGH?”

It’s a little more complex than just signing Harrison Barnes. There is a lot more involved than inking a max contract for a player who was very underwhelming on a 73-9 Warriors team that came up smaller than a Seahawks’ playcall in the Super Bowl when his team failed with a 3-1 finals lead and home court advantage.

Yup.

I can recite all the numbers. How did he fail along with his cohorts who lost more playoff games than regular season contests? How do you justify paying him to be a franchise (monetarily at least) player amidst a locker room full of elite draft picks?

It’s a simple as this…….

Follow the bouncing balls…

A. Harrison Barnes would join the Sixers this fall fresh off his experience in the 2016 RIO Olympiad as a member of the USA Basketball team assembled by his new (76ers) team PRESIDENT PER SE….yeah…call him a consultant…but Jerry Colangelo has just as much a hand on the Sixers’ tiller as his kid Brian. But not to demean his son but the NBA footprint (with steel toed boots) is all over the change from Sam Hinkie and his gang of IPad analytic gangsters to old school NBA. That being known Jerry is fully responsible for the outcome and the product in Philadelphia this fall and beyond. With that in mind he played it closer than Dusty Rhodes and the NWA belt….give it to my son. There is no accident that Barnes is on the Sixers horizon and the 2016 Olympic team.

Now who assembled, chose and anointed the group that will represent Team USA?

You guessed it. Jerry Colangelo.

Does that give the Sixers an edge? I think so.

B. He will arrive after being wholly saturated in NBA success. The 73-9 Warriors, as led by Steve Kerr, emulate the offense that Brett Brown seeks to incorporate in South Philly. That means movement after the pass. Versatility in both offensive and defensive matchups. Unselfish play, with the ball never getting stuck anywhere but in the twine for two points. Harrison Barnes was not and at no point in the future being the Alpha in the Golden State offense, yet he could teach and display for the kiddie Sixers the model that makes wins outta being a part of a winning formula versus being solely responsible for the
outcome as most of the top young talent has been throughout the majority of their fledgling basketball lives.

C. NBA LIFE – There is more to the NBA player’s lives than game day. With the proliferation of highly paid kids who will board your Sixers’ charters next season, it absolutely can’t hurt to have someone who can show and prove for these kids how to live and survive on the road. We have heard the horror story of A.I. and his ten years of no packing, buying clothing on the road everywhere and ultimately failing in his transition to professional behavior and comportment. Yeah, he garnered an MVP and dragged a lame roster to a 2001 NBA FINALS appearance, but it was all downhill from there. Harrison Barnes, by all accumulated evidence, is just the cerebral citizen that the Sixer kids can follow, copycat and respect. I know you want to argue that a veteran like Elton Brand can do the same. That’s bulls—. These young men need someone who is modeling and contributing at a high level on the court also. Sitting on the bench for 38 minutes is NOT NBA leadership anymore. If it were ever.

D. SHOW HIM THE MONEY! The NBA salary cap is irrelevant in this conversation. As the advent of the new billion dollar bag-busting TV deal rolls around, it appears that the league and a large group of its teams will experience a virtual cap-free season. Knowing this, and coupling that information with his age, health, contribution and exploration date, this seems to be a no-lose situation for Philadelphia. Can he psychologically handle a max deal? Wherever he goes that will be the case so factor that question out. So here is your silver lining. Whatever he is, as a Sixer, will NOT include washed up. His value will grow in year 3 and 4 as his contract becomes obsolete in price and attractive to anyone as he will still be at or near peak athletic performance and barely 30. Do the deal. I am not a Harrison Barnes fan but, as a 40-year NBA observer, I know my romper room of future stars needs a leader that can play.

That’s the view from Mt. Airy…..follow me @MtAiryPhil and @NTheZoneShow on Twitter.