Phoenix Suns: Predicting player stats for 2022-23 – Dario Saric

Phoenix Suns, Dario Saric (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Dario Saric (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Across September, Valley of the Suns will deliver predicted stat lines for all 16 players currently contracted to the Phoenix Suns for the 2022-23 season.

After making a successful return from injury for Croatia at Eurobasket, there’s plenty of optimism surrounding what Dario Saric can provide for the Phoenix Suns this season. The Croatian hasn’t been seen in a Suns uniform since going down in the 2021 NBA Finals, with the team sorely missing his offensive versatility from the four and five positions.

It’s that versatility that garners Saric a guaranteed role, even if a slow start should be expected as he finds the rhythm of NBA pace. At 6’10”, he provides a unique blend of shooting and playmaking that no one else on the roster possesses at that size.

Dario Saric should provide the Phoenix Suns with a much needed point-of-difference as he makes his return from a serious knee injury.

After developing into a small-ball center for Monty Williams in 2020-21, it will be interesting to see if that maintains or whether he reverts back to his more traditional position as a power-forward. Offensively, he can play both positions without an issue in the world. Defensively, it’s a different story.

Coming off a major injury where lateral movement could be affected, it would be a tough ask to have Saric defending the more nimble power-forwards out on the perimeter. Conversely though, he’s not some sort of rim-protecting beast as a center in the paint either.

Having played 82% of game time as a center in his last NBA season, Saric averaged just 0.1 blocks per game and had the lowest defensive win shares of his five-year career. It’s this side of the ball that restrains him from being a starting level player, or as someone you can trust out there during closing stretches of play.

He’ll likely end up splitting time between both positions. Featuring next to Deandre Ayton could be interesting, giving him a genuine presence in which to funnel opposition players towards. When at the five, Monty Williams will need to surround him with stout perimeter defenders that won’t require him to be any kind of interior force.

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Overall, Saric should improve as the season progresses, culminating in similar statistical production as what he posted in 2020-21.

Predicted statistical averages – 18.1 minutes, 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 turnovers, 45.2% FG, 35.1% 3PT