After an embarrassing loss to the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors were eliminated from In-Season Tournament contention. If there’s one thing that’s been consistent throughout the rocky, dramatic, and often downright sloppy In-Season Tournament games, it’s been Dario Šarić’s performances.
Across four In-Season Tournament games, the Homie scored 20 points or more in 3 of them and 10 points in the final loss to the Kings. Of his 3 20-point performances, only two resulted in wins. The first was the Warriors’ November 3rd game against the Oklahoma City Thunder that came down to a last-minute decision by the refs on a Steph Curry buzzer-beater that was almost deemed intercepted by the Warriors’ own Draymond Green. The second came when the Warriors wembarrassed the Spurs on November 24th, beating them 118-112 at Chase Center.
Dario Saric made it look so easy pic.twitter.com/QglZ1yAMLp— Curry Flurry (@babyfacedubs) November 25, 2023
This season, the Homie has consistently been the Warriors’ second or third best scorer, and he’s been making the most important assists between the bench unit as well. Throughout the tournament, he’s helped out his teammates tremendously. He gave life and purpose to veteran point guard Chris Paul, who had to step up his role in Steph’s absence on November 14th, and helped him fight the Cliff Paul allegations with 15 points that night. He helped rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis fit right in with the bench unit. He and Andrew Wiggins even successfully avoided ejection while breaking up the brawl heard ‘round the world. All the while, as the Warriors let leads slip through their sweaty fingers over and over and over, Dario has hardly had a win to show for it.
Even at only 29 years old and chronically on the edge of being non-rotational, Dario knows how to be a leader, as one of the captains of the Croatian National Team for the 2022 FIBA qualifiers and the 2023 Olympic pre-qualifiers, as well as leading the hyper-young Oklahoma City Thunder to the 2023 Play-In Tournament as the only veteran presence on the team. In times this season when his team has needed him most — often without Steph, Klay, or Draymond throughout the In-Season Tournament — Dario has known exactly how to step up, and although he didn’t win much for it, he did it flawlessly.
There were hungry ghosts seeking Dario’s soul on each of the brightly-colored courts he played on throughout the tournament. Dario plays best when there’s something to play for, whether it’s personal valor or a near-meaningless In-Season Trophy. As I explored in my article covering the November 14th brawl, Dario loves a revenge game, and we saw it clearly throughout the In-Season Tournament. His first true cookings of the season came against the Thunder and the Timberwolves, and the motivation of finally winning something in his seven-year NBA career kept him going the rest of the time. Truthfully, Stepback ŠiŠi spent the tournament doing it all — and while the rest of his performances have been solid, nothing has come close to his 20-bombs yet outside of these tournament performances.
With hopes of an In-Season trophy out the window, we’ll have to wait and see if this loss lights another fire in Dario’s eyes, or if he’ll return to giving us 8 points on a good night. For the sake of the Warriors (and the author, trust me), there’s much more appeal in the former.
As the season drags on, only time will tell if the Warriors’ 6-6 season will turn around. The one thing I know is that Dario Šarić will continue trying to win by any means necessary, and proving himself to be the solid rotational player we all know he can be.