It can be frustrating trying to figure out Dario Saric.
There really isn't any other way to put it. And in no way is this a knock about his God-given ability between the lines, but instead has everything to do with his maturation away from the game.
Here is a 19-year old from Croatia with potential that is through the roof and a young resume that any international player would love to have (he was recently named to Croatia's U-19 team). At 6'10 and 225 pounds, Saric's high-energy and well-rounded versatility as a small forward/point guard makes him a focus for a number of front offices around the NBA in this year's NBA Draft (Saric is a projected first-round pick) on June 27. But there has to be more to a player's DNA than simply his on-court talent and make-up. Analyzing the full package - character and overall maturity also comes into play, particularly in regards to Saric.
There was a DUI incident back in December.
His license was suspended.
FIBA had to intervene during his dramatic publicized spit with KK Zagreb (who was awarded 550,000 Euros).
He didn't play for months and finally signed a four-year contract with Cibona Zagreb, who now owns a 1.2 million Euro buyout.
Then in a matter of 10 days in mid-April, Saric went from saying he will not declare for the 2013 NBA Draft to officially declaring for the 2013 NBA Draft.
The latest scuttlebutt from Croatia: Saric was fined 1000 Euros for violating team rules and breaking curfew earlier this month.
Kids will be kids, right?
At this juncture in his young professional career that mantra could hurt Saric in the end and some feel already has.
In Game 1 of the Croatian Finals, Saric put the focus back on his on-court ability as he finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in Cibona's 84:68 win over Zadar. While the final box score numbers didn't scream "First Round", NBA teams taking notice have come to know Saric's game on both ends of the floor since he came onto the scene as an oversized point guard with Croatia's junior national teams (he was named MVP the U-16 and U-18 championships).
Saric's skill to handle the ball and find players in half court sets and in the open floor is certainly aspects that gives him glowing marks on scouting reports and headlines describing him as the next Magic Johnson (no pressure). Saric also owns a soft shooting touch both off of the dribble and with his jump-shot. Another plus: the kid can finish at the rim. Saric can hit the glass too, both on defense and offensively thanks to his long reach. On the defensive end, there will be an adjustment from Europe to the NBA game, but this is the case not just when it comes to Saric but the majority of young players who make the transition from overseas to the Association. Adding strength and developing his body will eventually help as he adapts to a stronger more physical NBA game.
Saric has to get to the NBA game first and even then there are some questions.
While reports have surfaced that the Dallas Mavericks are interested in adding Saric to the mix, it's still unclear of Saric will be able to attend individual workouts with teams as he's in the thick of the finals in Croatia and then heads straight into training with the U-19 team. Mavs GM Donnie Nelson was able to attend one of Saric's games at the end of the regular season so Dallas is certainly familiar with what Saric can do.
But will he remain in the draft long enough for the Mavs to make Saric theirs?
He has said before that unless he is a lottery pick, he would not remain in the draft (June 17 is the early withdraw deadline), which makes you wonder what kind of promises Saric is really receiving as the NBA Draft draws near.
If Saric opts to wait and decides to re-enter his name in the 2014 NBA Draft instead, he's looking at facing the potential of a stronger draft class. He's also risking another year overseas and the tough spot of placing himself in compromising positions.
Then again, this could be a chance for Dario Saric to grow up both on and off of the floor.