Is Dario Saric the Favorite to Win Rookie of the Year?
Should Dario Saric win Rookie of the Year this season? If you asked me that question in early January I would’ve said that that honor would belong to another Philadelphia 76er,Joel Embiid, who was having one of the better rookie seasons the NBA has seen in awhile. He was averaging 20.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and was blocking shots regularly at 2.5 shots per game. Joel Embiid was taking the NBA by storm and would’ve most likely have been the unanimous vote for Rookie of the Year this season.
He was the talk of the NBA for the first half of the year and was running away with the award by December. However, Joel Embiid hasn’t played since January and his name is falling out of contention due to the fact that he’s only played in 31 games this year, which may not be enough to get the vote for Rookie of the Year. This means that the award is essentially up for grabs and even though there are some good rookies this season, the award may still end up in Philadelphia.
As soon as Joel Embiid went down, Dario Saric came up. Dario Saric numbers have risen since Embiid’s season ending injury. He’s played exceptionally well since Embiid has been gone and the Sixers haven’t really missed a beat. Dario Saric’s production has improved month to month and he’s gotten better game by game. His increase in productivity has captured the eyes of many people. Let’s take a further look.
According to ESPN, Dario Saric, with Embiid, averaged 9.6 points per game in November, 9.9 points per game in December, and 10.2 points per game in January. So with Joel Embiid by his side, Saric was roughly a 10 point per game scorer and his rebounds would fluctuate to around 5.5 per game. Dario Saric was a solid player with Embiid and the two played well together this season, but this man has found his groove without him and it’s been exciting to watch. Joel Embiid’s last game was on January 27th and since then; Saric’s numbers have dramatically improved.
In February, Saric averaged 17 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game. That’s a 7 point and 2 rebound improvement from the month before. In March, he’s currently averaging 19.3 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds. He has improved his scoring once again this month, which includes an impressive career high 32 points against the Chicago Bulls. His recent surge of great play has put his season numbers at 12.9 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game, while leading the Sixers to some impressive wins against the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics. Dario has definitely made a late push for Rookie of the Year.
So to reiterate the question, should Dario Sario win Rookie of the Year? The answer is yes. According to NBA.com’s version of the rookie rankings, Dario Saric is second (behind Embiid) in the rankings. Soon enough Embiid will be disqualified as he has not played in enough games and Saric will be recognized as the leading scorer amongst the rookies.
Due to Embiid’s injury, Saric is the leader in the rankings and the favorite among NBA experts to win the award and Embiid is fine with that. In fact he’s endorsed Saric for Rookie of the Year, according to Philly.com . “76ers rookie center Joel Embiid interrupted Dario Saric’s post-game interview with CSN Philly’s Molly Sullivan French to make a statement. “He’s the Rookie of the Year,” Embiid said of his rookie teammate. “That’s the guy.” Joel Embiid sees what the public is finally seeing, that Dario Saric is a hell of a basketball player.
With Embiid essentially out of the way for rookie of the year votes, Dario Saric is in the lead and his play has let it be known that he is a favorite for the award. Embiid has been a huge reason why the Sixers have won more games than last year, but Dario Saric has had a tremendous impact as well. Even if you take away the numbers for a second, Saric has had the greatest impact in the NBA over any other rookie that’s not on the Sixers. Out of the 74 games the Sixers have played this year, Dario Saric has played in all of them. That’s right! In this era that is rare to see, especially from big men. Nonetheless, Dario has played in every game and has been just as productive. His energy and passion has led the Sixers to a modest record when many (including myself) thought they would fall due to the absence of Embiid.
As a Sixers fan, if you would have told me that Dario Saric would be a household name by the end of his rookie season, I wouldn’t have believed you. Dario Saric’s name didn’t come up much when people spoke of potential rookie of the year candidates. In fact, many didn’t believe he would play much this season and he’s played better than anticipated. He has become one of the better players for the Sixers and the league as he can stretch the floor with his shooting and has the ability to make plays with ball in his hands. Dario Saric will most likely win the Rookie of the Year award and with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Saric, Sixers fans should be excited for the future because it sure is bright.
To convince you a little more that Saric deserves rookie of the year, check out some of his highlights from this season.