Add Dario Saric to the growing list of Philadelphia 76ers players who think the team has what it takes to make the playoffs this season.
The 6’10”, 223-pound forward averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds over 26.3 minutes per contest in his rookie season. Starting 36-of-81 games for the Sixers after the team traded away Irsan Ilysasova, Saric took advantage, posting 15.1 points and 6.9 boards in 29.6 minutes for the rebuilding club en route to a All-Rookie First Team selection.
Now, with 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons healthy, with Joel Embiid at full strength, and with the additions of 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick, Philadelphia didn’t only “trust the process”, but they seemingly have a solid shot of making the playoffs in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
Saric explained that not only do the 76ers have a talented team on paper (with Jahlil Okafor, Justin Anderson, Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and T.J. McConnell all likely playing a role), but they also are a cohesive bunch off of the court.
“When you trust each other, when you have that particular feeling, it just makes it so much easier to accomplish things and perform within a team. That’s what I’m seeing in Philadelphia. We have good chemistry between us as people,” Saric told Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net.
“Good humor as well,” he added. “We frequently joke with each other. You know, in NBA sometimes people don’t hang out off the court like in Europe. In Europe, it’s more common to hang out with your teammates. But we’re good friends. And when we travel for away games we hang out a lot. It’s a really good thing. It’s a first step towards doing something good. It’s all about people. Trusting each other and believing in each other.”
While a number of factors are in play for a team vying for a playoff spot, Saric believes that Philly has the chemistry required to open some eyes this year.
“I don’t want to talk about accomplishing something… amazing. Of course, we have a team for the playoffs. On paper,” Saric admitted to Stroggylakis. “But there are lots of factors at play. We must be healthy, first of all. Then everything should work on the court. You might have 12 good players but it doesn’t mean anything if they can’t work together on the floor. It’s important to find a chemistry among the players, to keep all players happy. Coach Brett Brown can do that. I hope we’re going to have a great season.”
Along with Simmons, Embiid and Fultz, Saric figures to be a major part of Philadelphia’s plans in both the short term and the long term.
The Sixers will open their season on the road against the Washington Wizards on October 18. If they were to come away with a victory in that contest, it would send a major statement to the rest of the NBA.