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Trust the process. Across social media and the fronts of t-shirts, this is the statement Philadelphians are clinging to. Waiting, sometimes impatiently, for success that hasn't come since A.I.Sam Hinkie has given the team some hope during his tenure, drafting promising players such as Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. However, none of his draft choices have had immediate positive impact on the floor. Joel Embiid, the big man from Kansas who has garnered comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon, has yet to play because of injuries.Hinkie's credo has been patience, hoping that supporters will have the same and trust his rebuilding strategy. One move in the 2014 Draft may end up being a defining component of that strategy: after selecting Elfrid Payton, Hinkie sent him to Orlando for the rights to a young Croatian that he knew would probably not wear a Sixers uniform for at least two years. After initially confusing fans and stirring Michael Carter-Williams trade talks (turns out just a little too soon) by picking Payton, Hinkie ended up with two top selections that have yet to make an on-court impact to this day. Despite the long wait, the trade for Dario Saric still looks promising and patience may prove prudent again.
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The 6-9, 225-pound forward has showcased his immense talent in all European competitions. Along with averaging 12.9 PPG and 8.3 RPG in just 10 Eurocup games in 2013-14, he has shown massive potential through his intangibles and court vision, made evident in plays like these:However, ití»s difficult to judge Saric on his recent stats because he clearly is not altogether focused on his game in Europe, but is looking at the future, anticipating his NBA career. This was made clear by reports in July that stated he wanted to join the 76ers for this upcoming season, but was unable to due to a contract with his Turkish club, Anadolu Efes, until the 2016-17 season (with the Sixers having a chance for a buyout after this upcoming season). Without a buyout, he will most likely come over in the summer of 2017.It is also difficult to gauge potential NBA players in Europe because of the lower level of competition, not to mention playing alongside teammates who are often not near an NBA level. This shines more importance on his understanding of the game and intangibles rather than his statistics.
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Even more important is his fit on the current Sixers roster. The team is in need of a small forward and already has three big men to dominate the paint, as well as the open possibility of trading one of them for a budding point guard for a more balanced on-court product. Saric will also help tremendously with an inside and outside presence, giving the the team much more versatility and unpredictability.As long as Dario Saric plays in Europe and Sixers fans see highlights of his play, excitement will continue to mount. The wait may be long, but if Philadelphia fans can remain patient, they could be rewarded with significant improvement in the next few years, improvement in which Saric could play an integral role.