SAN FRANCISCO – Steph Curry didn’t need a signal, he didn’t have to say a word. Like two ballet dancers synchronized by silence, his new Warriors teammate Dario Šarić pulled off three letters that have been a staple to the Steve Kerr era.
“Playing pickup the other day and somebody threw him the ball, and he did an immediate DHO (dribble handoff) with me and I didn't have to say anything,” Curry said Monday at Warriors Media Day.
It might not sound like much, but Curry knows how important that kind of recognition is. The Warriors have had so much success with the action that one of Draymond Green’s best offensive moves is a fake DHO.
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The Warriors set out to get smarter and better with their basketball IQ this season, and Šarić was atop their offseason plan in doing so.
“It was like one of those pieces of just playing good basketball that he figured out and knows without you having to tell him,” Curry said. “So that's a good start on a role that we really need because he understands just how to play. When you can shoot and you know how to play and you fill a position of need for us, that's huge for us.”
Aside from securing Green’s new four-year contract at the start of free agency, Šarić was new Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy’s No. 1 target. The veteran big man who can stretch the floor long has been coveted by several within the franchise. And signing with the Warriors was an easy decision, Šarić says.
In his introduction to Warriors media, Šarić mentioned Curry as one of the greatest players ever, Kerr as one of the greatest coaches ever and his system as one of the best ever. The Warriors had to wait a bit longer than they hoped this summer for Šarić to sign a one-year, veteran minimum deal, but they always knew where he ultimately wanted to go. Golden State was the best option to him, and both sides are set on making each other better.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors also gave him a chance to be teammates again with one of his favorite tandems. Chris Paul and Šarić quickly created chemistry together with the Phoenix Suns, and the Warriors believe the two will pick up right where they left off.
“Amazing guy,” Saric said. “Amazing player. Just how he reads the court and how he plays pick-and-roll and how he can audible, that kind of stuff, amazing. Happy to play with him again, and he really knows how to find me in some situations.
“We have great experience playing together and I hope we are going to spend a lot of time on the court together and kind of figure out how to attack and how to guard. Obviously a great defender, too. Great to be with him again.”
Playing alongside Paul again was an obvious pitch the Warriors could give Šarić. But in finding the best ways to make Paul fit in with the Warriors and feel more at ease, playing with Šarić again also was a pitch by Dunleavy and the front office to Golden State’s newest future Hall of Fame point guard.
When the idea was presented to Paul, he didn’t need to live in hypotheticals. He already knew what a great fit Šarić would be.
“Dario's just a great dude, great teammate,” Paul said. “Dario, just when I knew I was coming here and I talked to Mike about the opportunity to play with Dario here, you know, some guys just fit a team really well. I think with the way that we want to play, Dario fits that.”
Šarić knows motion and movement. Šarić knows spacing. The 29-year-old is on his fifth franchise and entering his sixth NBA season, yet he seemingly is seen as a Warriors player immediately – both for what he has shown in the NBA and his international play.
In Šarić’s first season playing with Paul in Phoenix, he primarily played center. Per Basketball Reference’s position estimate, Šarić played the position 82 percent of the 2020-21 season. That number then dropped to only 9 percent at center and flipped to 91 percent at power forward in Šarić’s 37 games for the Suns last season, before he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Experience at both positions has allowed Šarić to take on different roles with Paul on the floor.
As a center, Šarić was a screener for Paul in pick-and-roll. Sometimes Šarić would be in the short post, sometimes Šarić would roll and sometimes he would spread the court, pick-and-pop and go from there. Then last season for the Suns, Šarić more so was reading Paul off the ball where he would cut and find the right slot off his point guard.
Now on the Warriors, Šarić feels what he and Paul did in Phoenix can be a strong foundation for a unit on their new team. One week before media day, Kerr emphasized how Šarić’s shooting also can allow him to play next to Jonathan Kuminga as another player who should be part of the third-year pro’s breakout. In Golden State, the former lottery pick’s skills might shine as bright as everyone expected nine years ago in the 2014 draft.
“If you have five guys on the court who are dangerous in every moment, who are capable to score in every moment, that's a system,” Šarić said. “So from there it's just hard to guard. And obviously you have Chris, high IQ, he can play the pick-and-roll, I think he’s just a great addition for this team.
“They have option plays, but they can play pick-and-roll, too. They have great guys who can find guys open.”
Curry already has talked to Paul about the way Šarić sees the game. Paul’s voice was heard in the Warriors signing Šarić, and the two being the center of Kerr’s second unit should patch up so many holes that drowned this team last season.