May I interest you in a 6’10” floor-spacing big man with plus passing and quick decision-making that plays to his strengths on both ends of the court?
Let me reintroduce you to Dario Saric.
JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo were excellent additions for the Suns last season, but they did not bring the versatile change of pace that Dario did as a compliment to Ayton. Replacing Frank Kaminsky with Jock Landale to fill that role gives them additional versatility as well, but Saric is a more proven commodity.
The Suns’ big man rotation is looking promising with the return of Deandre Ayton, Bismack Biyombo, and Saric along with the addition of Jock Landale. Essentially they are two deep at each “type” of big, which is important come playoff time for matchups.
By The Numbers
Dario’s impact goes far beyond the numbers, as a casual fan may see 8.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on the surface and not think much. Having a “change of pace” floor-spacing big fits exactly what the team needed at times last season.
The chemistry he’s developed with the second unit has been impressive dating back to the bubble. Him and Cam Payne’s two-man game immediately come to mind, as they played very well off each other out of the pick-and-pop and P&R game.
Dario Saric's return next season would be huge for Cam Payne. They've got good chemistry and Saric's ability to stretch the floor opened up Payne's drives.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) August 1, 2022
The Suns two seasons ago had a stellar 16.5 net rating (in 471 minutes) when that duo was on the floor. pic.twitter.com/4heFxtC4ns
While Saric wasn’t doing anything eye-popping or flashy, his impact in the 2021 playoffs was noticeable to anyone that watched the team closely.
Taking a look at the Suns’ bigs on their roster last season, there wasn’t anyone that could replace what Dario brought to the table. In 2021, Phoenix could’ve used a JaVale McGee, so they went out and got him. In 2022, Phoenix could’ve used a Dario Saric.
In some ways, Frank Kaminsky was supposed to be that to a lesser degree before his season-ending injury and eventual release from the team. As you’ll see below, his high IQ play unlocked the offense in many instances.
Dario Saric was a massive contributor to winning in the 2020-21 playoffs.— Xin Varlock (@XinNBA) August 7, 2022
He was the X-Factor.
Here's how he did it (thread), starting with a 5-out spacing approach that the 2022 Suns simply did not have. pic.twitter.com/YKN2eZbtZE
Monty Williams is a big fan of Dario as well, for obvious reasons. His “0.5 system” is tailor-made for floor spacing bigs that can pass the rock as Dario can.
It’s not only that he can pass, but it’s how quickly he processes what’s happening in front of him when making those decisions. Little things like that lead to a more crisp, efficient offense that isn’t wasting any time during their possessions.
Monty said Dario Saric is one of his favorite players he's ever coached. Reinforced they need a connector like Saric that can go with both groups with a team-friendly style of play.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) December 17, 2020
The team-friendly style of play is what stands out the most to me about this quote. Phoenix truly lacked that type of big once Frank Kaminsky faced injuries and his eventual release from the team.
It’s still very possible that Dario Saric is moved in a trade before or during the season due to his expiring contract. A contract figure that fits perfectly as a “salary filler” in a blockbuster trade, or even in a trade to acquire a difference maker if the Suns look to take that swing.
If they are to trade Saric, Jock Landale would presumably fill that archetype by providing a floor spacing connector in a sense.
Either way, keep an eye out for Dario Saric this season. His return could mean more than you’d initially believe.