Dario Saric’s ability to hit shots vs. Hornets will drastically impact offense

Dario Saric hasn’t shot well to begin this season, but the Philadelphia 76ers as a team haven’t, either.

The Sixers have knocked down just 34.4 percent from the 3-point line, ranking No. 21 in the league. It’s apparent they need more quality shooters, but currently must work with what they have.

And for now, Saric is still one of the team’s better shooters. He shot 39.3 percent from the 3-point line last season, but this season is averaging just 26.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Saric is supposed to space the floor for the Sixers’ offense, along with other shooters such as JJ Redick, Robert Covington and Landry Shamet. When Ben Simmons or any other player drives into the lane, the expectation is that Saric will be ready to shoot if the ball is kicked to him.

The Sixers are in the midst of a two-game skid, most recently losing to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons. They’ll play at home against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Joel Embiid is questionable (ankle) for the game, and if he can’t play, the Sixers’ offense will need someone to take on the scoring load. Embiid has scored at least 30 points in the past four games, and he leads the team with 29.6 points per game.

Saric isn’t a scorer like Embiid, but if he can knock down more shots, particularly ones off drive and kicks, then the offense will open up.

Simmons can get into the lane with ease, and if Saric can hit more shots, then the Hornets will have to respect him. That means Simmons will find other players, and the Sixers’ spacing will improve.

Saric spoke to the media after practice Friday, and he mentioned he’d be a better player if he hadn’t spent the summer playing for the Croatian national team over the past five or six years, per NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Paul Hudrick.

Still, the 24-year-old said he hopes he can get into a rhythm with his jump shot. Hudrick reported that Saric was the last player to leave after practice, as he was shooting shots from all over the floor.

“It’s not something that’s going to last all season,” Saric said. “Every game I think I’ve improved a step going forward. There shouldn’t be some big question about it. I don’t think I’m playing bad like you can’t recognize me or things like that.”

The season is still early, and Saric isn’t the only player on the team who is struggling to shoot well.

Though Covington is shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc, he is only knocking down 42.3 percent of his attempts from the field. Redick is shooting 42.6 percent from the three-point line and 43.9 percent from the field.

Saric is still one of the Sixers’ main shooters, though, and for the Sixers offense to improve, he’ll need to shoot better.

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