2022-23 Thunder player grades: Dario Saric
The 2022-23 Oklahoma City Thunder’s season ended with the play-in tournament loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which means it’s time for reflection.
Being one of the biggest overachievers in the league, the Thunder finished with a 40-42 record after being predicted by many to have high lottery odds.
Now that the season is in the books, let’s go back and evaluate all 19 players who suited up for the Thunder this past season. Grades will be handed out to every player in terms of what their expectations were heading into the season and how they lived up to them.
The 14th player in this installment is Dario Saric, who provided the Thunder with a quality two months of wing depth. He’ll be a free agent this summer, so who knows what his future holds with OKC.
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(Editor’s note: We are starting individual grades for all players from the 2022-23 Oklahoma City Thunder. To access other reviews as part of this ongoing series, click here.)
39.1% 3-point shooting
82.9% free-throw shooting
True-shooting percentage: 58.3%
Usage rate: 19.2%
Win shares: 1.7
Significant Percentile Finishes:
Transition scorer: 90.6 percentile
P&R roll man: 81.5 percentile
Spot up: 34.4 percentile
Cutter: 81.4 percentile
Saric’s tenure with the Thunder only lasted roughly two months, but he provided quality wing depth in his brief stint in OKC.
He was part of a trade deadline trade with the Phoenix Suns in order to make the finances work. Initially seen as a possible buyout option, the Thunder decided to keep Saric around for the last couple of months of the season, and was a pleasant surprise.
Replacing Mike Muscala, Saric gave the Thunder a veteran wing who was a well-rounded offensive weapon. In 20 games with OKC, he averaged 7.4 points on 51.5% shooting and 3.3 rebounds. From 3, he shot 39.1% on 2.3 attempts.
The peripherals also showed that Saric was a really good pick-and-roll partner — as he was an 81.5 percentile roll man with OKC — and cutter — as he was in the 81.4 percentile with OKC. During his time with the Thunder, he was also in the 97th percentile for rim-finishing among bigs at 82.8% shooting.
Down the stretch of the season, the Thunder lacked serious depth at the wing/center spots due to trades and injuries, Saric helped fill out some of the void.
The 29-year-old spoke in his exit interview about being open to returning to the Thunder, but the right deal will need to be in place. I’m not so sure how much sense it makes to bring him back considering roster spots are going to be at a premium, but he was a good soldier during his two-month stay in OKC.
Honestly, if the Thunder decide to bring back one of their former veteran wings between Saric and Muscala, feelings aside, I think I’d lean toward Saric. While he’s not as good of a 3-point shooter, he’s a much more well-rounded offensive threat who still has some juice in his legs post-ACL tear.
If Saric’s stint with the Thunder is over, he was a fantastic addition — both on and off the court. It’s evident that he was a good fit in the locker room and the veteran never complained about a lack of playing time despite his status.
Saric was a nice addition to the Thunder in his two months. He played like a legit bench wing/center and provided OKC with a quality veteran who can shoot the ball a bit and did what was asked of him.
Considering he’s 29 years old, this is likely who Saric will be for the foreseeable future. He had a nice bounceback season after tearing his ACL in 2021. Now that he’s proven to be over that, I think there should be a respectable market for him.
While Saric spoke glowingly about the Thunder and wants to stay, I just don’t see how much sense it makes to re-sign a 29-year-old backup wing — especially with the Thunder adding another draft class.
Roster spots and minutes are already going to be hard to come by, so bringing back Saric seems counterproductive — it’d make more sense to give his projected minutes to someone younger on the roster to see if they can pan out to be anything worthwhile.
While bringing back Saric is a good win-now move, I don’t think the Thunder are in win-now mode just yet. They’ll likely enter training camp with one of the youngest rosters in the league once again and the roster will mostly be made up of players 25 years old and younger.
Final Grade: B