The Phoenix Suns are one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises in the NBA this season. A team that was supposed to be tanking has been recording a decent run towards the playoffs. At the moment, the Suns are occupying the seventh spot in the Western Conference, which has a very high level of competitiveness. The leader for the Suns in this run this season is no other than Goran Dragic.
After being buried behind future Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash for years and years, Goran Dragic finally got a chance to shine when the veteran point guard decided to take his talents to LA and join Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. Nash became a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and left the room open for Dragic to emerge as the leader of the Phoenix Suns. And Dragic did exactly that.
This season, the Suns were expected to do no better than to struggle to retain a spot at the bottom of the Western Conference. Of course, Dragic was expected to record a decent season, like has been doing for his career. However, no one really expected the 27-year old point guard to emerge as one of the best point guards in the league, because that’s exactly what Dragic is at the moment. Up to this point of the season, the 6’3” guard out of Yugoslavia is averaging 20.6 points per contest, which is slightly less than double from his career average. He is also dishing out 6.2 assists per contest and securing 3.5 rebounds, while shooting 51.2 percent from the floor. His three-point shooting has also improved to a 41.4 percent rate. All of those numbers are above his career-averages. Goran Dragic’s points per game, rebounds, and field goal percentage are career-bests.
So is Goran Dragic that good? Well, yes he is.
Considering the fact that the Phoenix Suns sent away several members of the core of their team, like Michael Beasley, Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown and Luis Scola, over the last couple of years, Dragic has found a way to help this team move forward and build chemistry, by being the true play-maker of the Suns. Apart from his scoring, Dragic is doing much more, when he is on the court, for his team. He is setting up the offensive flow and he is helping his teammates find themselves in situations where they can score easy baskets or at least take high-percentage shots. And it’s not like Dragic has a bunch of capable scorers on his side. On the contrary, the Suns have a bunch of low-tier contributors in their arsenal, who, however, are delivering with consistency this season. Of course, Dragic has started in all but one out of the 55 games he appeared in with the Suns uniform this season.
It’s notable that his fellow guard in the backcourt, Eric Bledsoe, who was acquired by the Los Angeles Clippers this summer, has been out due to an injury for a couple of months now. And yet, Dragic seems like he wasn’t much affected by his absence. The two of them had previously shown some promising signs of chemistry. Whilst there were some doubts about them being able to work together in sync, Dragic and Bledsoe found a way to be effective. In fact, formed a powerful one-two punch in Phoenix’s backcourt. At the moment, Dragic seems like he has found a way to work in sync with Gerald Green on his side. Maybe Bledsoe’s absence has slightly benefited him, as he is now taking a bigger chunk of the offensive load for the Suns.
Goran Dragic was expected to make his first All-Star Game this season, but unfortunately he fell short. Although he received lots of votes, he didn’t manage to win his selection. However, it’s notable that other big-name guards, like Russell Westbrook, did not participate in the All-Star Game this year. His stats certainly made him qualify as a reserve for the Western All-Stars. At the end, Damian Lillard, Tony Parker and Chris Paul were voted ahead of Dragic, with Kobe Bryant clinching a starter position that he never filled due to an injury. It’s almost certain that if he continues to improve his performance at the rate he is currently doing, he will stand many more bigger chances to win his selection next year. He can also certainly earn more respect from his fellow players, fans and basketball community.
The big question now for Goran Dragic and the Phoenix Suns is if he and the team can continue to play at the level they have been during the playoffs. The Suns were expected to make a move or two in order to acquire a veteran presence, like Pau Gasol or Luol Deng through a trade, as the trade window was closing. Nonetheless, they never made that happen and they will now have to continue with their current assets. The Suns will have a difficult time during the playoffs for sure. The level of competitiveness is extremely high in the Western Conference and even the third or fourth spot will be occupied by a potential NBA champion. The Suns could rank as high as fifth but also as low as ninth by the end of the regular season, judging from the data we currently have.
The certain fact is that the team will need Goran Dragic’s big contributions in order to move forward and record a successful course during the postseason. We can’t really judge Dragic’s playoff performances from his up to now records. That’s because the 27-year old guard is recording a breakaway season and that’s what he is projected to continue doing during the postseason. Hopefully Goran Dragic will be able to sustain a performance close to his 20 points per game average.
It’s still not sure if Goran Dragic will eventually solidify himself as an elite point guard. What’s for sure is that he is recording a great season and that he has managed to do so whilst he is playing alongside a mediocre team.
Ron Leyba is the content manager of Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues – premier source of fantasy basketball updates, rankings and rumors. For more of his fantasy basketball updates, follow Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ account.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks