Former Temple star Lynn Greer Jr. was well aware of Sixers rookie Dario Saric

March 28, 2017 GMT

If you have been watching the Philadelphia 76ers lately, then you’ve seen rookie forward Dario Saric play some terrific basketball. With center Joel Embiid lost for the season due to a knee injury, Saric has developed into a solid candidate for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.

Former Temple star Lynn Greer isn’t surprised at Saric’s sudden rise to prominence in his first NBA season. Greer had played against Saric during his professional career in Turkey.

“I played against Saric in Turkey,” said Greer, who played 12 years of professional basketball in Europe. “We might have played them [Anadolu Efes] three or four times. I was old at the time. I was 34 or 35. He kept the [NBA] scouts at his games.”

Saric was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 12th selection in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Magic traded him to the Sixers with a 2017 first round pick for point guard Elfrid Payton.

ADVERTISEMENT

Saric, a native of Croatia, signed with the Sixers on July 15, 2016 after playing two seasons in Turkey. The 6-foot-10, 223-pound power forward, averaged 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists a game during the 2015-16 season.

“I knew he was special because he’s deceptively tall,” Greer said. “He’s like 6-10. He handles the ball like a guard. He passes like a guard. He knows how to use his body. He can get his shot.”

Saric can certainly get his own shot. He had displayed flashes of brilliance throughout the first half of the season. Saric’s playing time received quite a boost when the Sixers acquired center Tiago Splitter, a second-round pick, and the option to swap a second-round pick from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for forward Ersan Ilyasova, who had played in 53 games (40 starts) with the Sixers. Ilyasova averaged 15 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 44 percent. The deal allowed Saric to move into the starting lineup as result this transaction has really improved in his overall game so many areas.

Saric is currently averaging 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. The last 10 games, he’s tallying 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game. He had a season-high 32 points with 10 rebounds in a 117-107 win over the Chicago Bulls last Friday.

“I did a radio interview before he came,” Greer said. “I said, ‘this guy is the real deal.’ We’re starting to see it now in his last 20 to 30 games.”

The Sixers will visit the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet.