During Croatia's match against Spain at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dario Saric showed why he deserves to be part of the Philadelphia 76ers. But, his great performance could spell the end for Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel's time with the team.
On Aug. 7, Croatia faced off against Spain, a team that is composed of various NBA veterans and retirees. Spain got an early lead on Croatia and ended the quarter with an 8-point deficit. From then on, Croatia struggled to take the lead and never gave up on putting pressure on Spain.
At the end of the game, Croatia, which entered the match as an underdog, managed to beat Spain by just two points. One of the standout players from the team was Saric, who was signed by the 76ers earlier in July.
He was the one who helped secure the team's two-point lead and also prevented Spain from putting the game into overtime by blocking the would-be buzzer-beater shot from the Chicago Bulls' Pau Gasol.
Although Saric only made five points in that game, what made him standout from the rest was his ability to read the plays. As pointed out by SB Nation, Saric was supposed to be guarding Spain's Nikola Mirotic, another player from the Bulls. But, sensing that Spain was going for its final play, he left Mirotic to try to disrupt the movement of the ball. This then led him to the path of Gasol under the basket.
This versatility and mental sharpness are probably what Philadelphia saw in Saric, which is why he was offered a contract. But aside from these qualities, he could also serve as a solution to the team's current problem.
As noted by 76ers president Bryan Colangelo, the team currently has a surplus of big men, which is causing an imbalance in the roster. Of course, the only way to alleviate this is by letting go of some of its centers or power forward in exchange for guards or small forwards.
Now that the 76ers have seen what Saric can really do when placed under pressure, they could start moving some of their big men, such as Okafor and Noel, according to Sportsrageous. With Saric holding down the team's presence under the basket, the Philadelphia organization can now start to enter trade deals involving these two players. That way, Colangelo will be able to get the well-balanced team that he has always wanted.