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September 17, 2015

International tournament review: Dario Saric and Nik Stauskas

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Over the past few weeks, a bunch of NBA players have participated in Olympic qualifying tournaments like Eurobasket and FIBA Americas. The United States already punched its ticket to Rio for 2016 after winning last year’s World Cup (USA! USA! USA!), so we’re talking about only international players here.

Three players of direct interest to the Sixers represented their countries in these tournaments: Dario Saric (Croatia), Nik Stauskas (Canada), and Furkan Aldemir (Turkey). For the sake of time, Furkan A averaged 3.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in six games. Now, let’s get caught up on how the other two guys did:

Dario Saric, Croatia

Per-Game Stats: 28.7 minutes, 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists (2.8 turnovers, 0.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks, 44.7 FG%, 26.7 3P%.

Highlight Plays:

Recap: As you can see, Saric had a few moments of brilliance in this tournament, but it’s fair to say that the 21-year-old was at least one of the many reasons that Croatia fell apart at the end and bowed out in the Round of 16. Take a look at his game log:


The three-game stretch in the middle was excellent, especially for someone as young as Saric. It’s important to remember that he is in a difficult position at the international level, matching up against older players while handling a lot of responsibility. What Saric does during the club season at Efes is much more important than Eurobasket. If he is making a mess of Croatia’s spacing (which happened a few times), it’s more excusable when the team doesn’t play together year-round.

Still, Saric definitely played poorly in his last two games against not-so-great competition. Going forward, his jumper and defense are what interest me most. Saric shot 33 percent from deep combined in the Turkish League and Euroleague last season, and it would really help his stock if he could bump that percentage up a few ticks. More respect from opposing defenses out on the perimeter could open up his playmaking skills. And on the other end, what position in the NBA does he guard?

Recently, Saric told a Croatian newspaper that he plans on coming to Philly next year. That doesn’t make a ton of financial sense for him on the surface, but we’ll see. Regardless, I’m intrigued to watch more of Saric this season in Turkey.

Nik Stauskas, Canada

Stats: 13.8 points, 48 3P%. Sorry, that is all I could find. 

Highlight Plays:

Recap: Throughout the tournament, Stauskas had a lot of wide-open three-pointers like in the Vine directly above. He made good use of them. Check out how efficient he was compared to everyone else:

Canada was shocked in the semifinals by a Venezuelan team with no NBA players (and the refs, kind of), so they will have to try to qualify for the Olympics again next year. Like Saric, it’s best not to put too much stock into Stauskas’ performance. Canada head coach Jay Triano did have good things to say about his defense:

“I’ve been more impressed with the way he’s guarded than anything else,” Triano said. ”He’s been super active, he’s bought into our system, he knows where to be, he doesn’t make very many mistakes and he always gives you great effort. That kept him on the floor long enough to find his offensive game.”

Defense is certainly a weakness for Stauskas, so he will have to buy in and expend a lot energy to become passable. At the risk of making the obvious white three-point shooter comparison, J.J. Redick is a good example of someone who improved on that end in the NBA to the point where he’s not hurting his team anymore.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann