For the Phoenix Suns, the rest of the 2020 season is of great importance to Dario Saric

Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

It really is a showcase for Saric in the final stretch of the season to see if there is a future with the Phoenix Suns after this year.

When the Phoenix Suns traded their 6th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Dario Saric and the 11th pick, the prized prospect was the 6-10, 225-pound power forward from Croatia. He came with a polished offensive package that included shooting the ball effectively from deep, posting up rather efficiently, and showcasing an acute passing touch.

There were struggles on the defensive end, as well as concerns about foot-speed and matchup effectiveness against quicker players, but both Suns fans and management were hopeful in the potential of a 25-year-old player who was heading into what should be his prime years. Saric was slotted in at a starting forward spot from day one.

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What would follow would be best described as an uneven season. Saric started 50 of the 58 games Phoenix has played up to this point this year. However, all of the concerns on the defensive end remained. He also had games where his rebound production waxed and waned, and more athletic fours could easily get around him, especially when teams went to smaller lineups with more zip and positional flexibility. In addition, second-year player Mikal Bridges showed that he could play the four spot effectively, and Bridges seemed to mesh better with the starting five than Saric.

Saric is currently averaging 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. That isn’t a huge difference from his career averages of 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists; unfortunately, the difference is that Saric’s production across the board is less than his admittedly average career numbers.

Dario Saric should find no lack of motivation once the season resumes at the end of July.

This is troubling, especially as seeing that after this season Saric is set to enter restricted free agency. Phoenix can extend a qualifying offer to him of $5 million to make him a restricted free agent and thus match any offers he may receive as they so choose. However, with the size of the cap reduced across the board, the money that Saric receives may be hard to come by. For the skillset that Saric holds, he could prove intriguing for more than a few teams, but extending a significant offer may not yield the hoped-for fruit.

For the Phoenix Suns, they sit in a nice position. If they want to retain him, the avenue is there. If they would rather play hardball, they have that opportunity as well. If Saric wants the Suns to feel a little pressure, then he needs to play the remainder of this season with a fire rarely seen this year.

The Phoenix Suns will need all hands on deck and playing cohesively and effectively if they want to defy all odds and earn a playoff berth. If Saric finishes the rest of the season strong, he will not only be doing it for the Suns sake but more arguably for his own.

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