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Celtics

Robb: Report Indicates Croatia’s Dario Saric Would Only Play For Celtics Or Lakers

By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
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Dario Saric #12 of the World Select Team on April 7, 2012. (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dario Saric #12 of the World Select Team on April 7, 2012. (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

BOSTON (CBS)  – The Celtics have proved to be one of the best teams in the NBA scouting for prospects on an international level.

A new report from overseas indicates that the team may have a reason to show off that reputation while evaluating the 2014 NBA Draft in regards to international prospect named Dario Saric.

According to David Pick of Eurobasket.com, Saric, who is a promising young 6-10 forward, is willing to come to the NBA next season, but only if he can play for the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.

Currently, Saric is rated as the ninth best prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft on the Draftexpress.com big board. That would put his stock a few spots below the Celtics’ current draft position at six, as well as the Lakers at number seven.

By making these wishes known around the league about his preferred destinations, Saric is attempting to control where he lands in the NBA. International prospects have regularly made declarations like this in NBA draft history, since they know they don’t need to come play in the NBA if drafted by a team they don’t want to play for. Instead, the prospect can happily stay overseas and continue to earn good money there for an international club.

A threat like this creates the possibility that Saric’s draft stock will drop if teams don’t want to take the chance that young prospect won’t want to come play for them.

If Saric’s intentions match up to this report, this could create an interesting situation for Ainge in regards to the team’s draft strategy, if the team does in fact like the lanky power forward. Boston could conceivably trade down out of the number six pick and into the middle of the first round (9-15) where Saric is most likely to land.

They could also roll the dice and hold tight to their pick at 17, with the hope that Saric’s threat will cause teams in the middle of the first round to pass on him. It’s a risky proposition since several teams could call Saric on his bluff and take him anyway. Still, with a deep draft class in place, NBA front offices will have several appealing options in the middle of the first round beyond Saric, which could make it easier for teams to pass on him.

The bigger question for Boston though is whether Saric would be a good fit in Green. He’s a 20-year-old from Croatia that has been on the NBA radar for most teams since he was 15. He’s not strong enough to play center in the NBA with his 223-pound frame, making him yet another power forward possibility on the already crowded depth chart at the position for Boston.

Still, his upside might cause Ainge to ignore the positional logjam. He’s a unique offensive weapon, with a great ability to score in transition, in the post, and create his own shot. That versatility should work wonders for him in the NBA. His rebound rate is above average for his position as well, but a lack of athleticism and strength make for some valid questions.

Will he be able to defend on the block down low? And if not, would he have the speed to guard the small forward spot if he was shifted to the wing? No knows for sure quite yet.

If the pros outweigh the cons with Saric, Ainge could have another enticing way of landing a prospect he likes and gaining more trade capital, if he is able to trade down in the first round and select Saric. For now, chalk it up as another possibility on the endless list of ways Ainge can approach this pivotal offseason.

You can check out the Draft Express video scouting report on Saric here:

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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