Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; The Charlotte Bobcats unveil their new branding logo as the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014 season at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets Draft Profile: Dario Saric

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The NBA Draft is quick approaching, and with that comes the hype. The buzz surrounding Charlotte this offseason is a big topic right now, as the Bugs look to expand on their success from last season. The question is who will bring that change come June. Here we will take a look at the best options for the Charlotte Hornets as we kick off our Draft Profile series.

 

Dario Saric

Saric is one of the most mysterious prospects of this year’s draft, but also is one who has the most upside. Let’s take a look at some of his strengths and weaknesses – and what his affect on the Hornets could be.

*This piece is written in the viewpoint of what Saric would hypothetically do and how he would fit with the Hornets IF they drafted him

Strengths:

Experience:

Saric led the Adriatic league in scoring, won MVP honors, and led his team to the championship.

No one on the Hornets roster has ever won a championship of any kind – except guard Kemba Walker. Despite being just 20 years old, Saric has more success accredited to his name than most NBA players now. If he can bring that experience and turn it into a lead-by-example type role, Charlotte would be happy to have him.

The average age of the Hornets team is just below 27, so many guys have not even had a chance to build up a resume like Saric’s. For those guys who have been on the Hornets the last few seasons, playoff appearances have been a pipe dream until this year.

Saric brings a unique sense of accomplishment to a team desperately in need of some.

Versatility / Ball Handling:

Saric plays one of the unofficial positions in basketball. That, of course, is the point forward.

A hybrid between a point guard who brings the ball up the floor and runs the offense and a forward who battles down low, this method of performance has been perfected by the likes of Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom (long time ago), and most notably LeBron James.

Saric has an interesting twist on the position, though. While the aforementioned guys all play the small forward role, Saric is much more of a power forward. Therefore his point forward status makes him unique.

In this video, you see Saric play the point forward role magnificently. According to the video’s uploader, he recorded a triple double that game.

While the role of point guard is not one of dire need for the Hornets, having another ball handler would not hurt the slow moving Charlotte offense.

Finishing:

Another quality of Saric that has teams drueling for the chance at selecting him is his ability to finish around the rim.

That has been an issue for the Hornets so far, as only Al Jefferson has been able to successfully penetrate the paint and make his shots. Cody Zeller averaged just 6 points a game while McRoberts averaged 8.5. Another finisher at the hoop could help.

Saric uses his previously mentioned versatility to get out on the break and uses his strong finishing ability to power through defenders. The video shows it perfectly from 0:32 to 0:57.

 

Size:

at 6″ 10″, 223 lbs., Saric is one of the uniquest prospects out there in terms of size. We have already brought up his point forward versatility, but he checks in as taller than two of the players listed as fellow point forwards (James and Pierce).

That kind of size is hard to defend in the NBA, especially when you have someone that size dribbling down the court at a dazzling speed. If you think about it, Dwight Howard, widely regarded as the best center in the league, is just one inch taller than Saric.

Just imagine if Dwight could run, pass, and shoot like Saric at 6″ 11″.

His size offers Charlotte a positional mismatch at nearly every position on the floor.

 

Weaknesses:

 

Position:

While being a point forward has its obvious perks, it can lead to some disarray on a team like Charlotte. Unlike Miami’s rotation (where LeBron runs the show as a point forward with ease), Charlotte’s varies. Plugging Saric into a team with a constantly revolving door of players may lead to some chemistry issues.

Would Saric want to bring the ball up over Kemba? Would he want to post up alongside Al Jefferson? It’s tough to tell.

The last thing the Hornets need is a bunch of guys calling for the ball. Their offense is a delicate one in itself, and messing with the chemistry of that may end up doing more harm than good.

NBA Adjustment:

Coming from a little-known Adriatic league team of which he was the go to guy, it may be difficult for Saric to adjust to the new system of the NBA. Not only would he not be the number one option on the team (Al Jefferson takes that role), but he also would face a whole new crop of the world’s finest competition in the basketball realm.

After earning the MVP trophy of his former league, Saric would have quite the reality check playing for a gritty team like Charlotte. Also, at a position where he would face up against LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and more, it could prove too much for Saric to handle.

The load of winning all the games for the team would be off his back, but playing well enough to stay in the rotation would be a heavy burden itself.

 

What does he bring to Charlotte?

 

If Charlotte did select Saric with the 9th pick in the draft, mystery would surround his to-be role until the first game is played. Some thought former first round pick Cody Zeller would start from day 1 for Charlotte, but he just ended up starting in 3 games all year.

The same could prove truthful for Saric, even though bringing a guy who just won the MVP and title of his league off the bench may be a little offensive and could mess with his head.

If Saric does in fact start over the disappointing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or the project Cody Zeller, his numbers are sure to be fascinating. I could see Saric averaging around 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and maybe 1.0 steals per game in his first year.

Those numbers don’t scream MVP, but the NBA is a bit different from the Adriatic league. They would also be better numbers than what a Charlotte rookie has put up since Emeka Okafor took home the ROY honors in Charlotte’s inaugural season.

Now, if Saric is relegated to an off-the-bench role like Zeller was, his numbers will likely reflect that. In more limited minutes, I would say Saric averages 8 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, and .5 steals per game.

It all depends on Rich Cho, Michael Jordan, and Rod Higgins.

Do they believe that Saric and his international accolades are enough to warrant the 9th pick in this year’s loaded draft?

I certainly do, but then again, I’m not the guy making the calls for this team.

 

Should the Charlotte Hornets draft Dario Saric?

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Stats courtesy of Draft Express, ESPN, and Basketball Reference

 

Daniel Zimmermann is a writer for Swarm and Sting. Follow him on Twitter at @danZman25

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