Goran Dragic slashes, drives and penetrates into the lane like no other NBA player, creatively opening up space to create for himself and his Phoenix Suns teammates. That creativity, though, comes with a heavy price: the beating he takes on a nightly basis as he hurtles into and bounces around defenders with his breathtakingly fun to watch forays towards the basket which sweep opponents and fans alike off their feet like a swift and strong gust of wind.
Dragic’s offensive game is so unique stylistically, but this year he’s coupled his singular energy and fervor with the efficiency both Dragic and his Suns have lacked. For any ball-handler to shoot over 50 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from three is impressive. For Dragic to do so with his number of minutes and a usage rate, especially when guard Eric Bledsoe was injured, makes him one of the NBA’s most valuable players this season on the league’s most surprisingly successful squads.
“He’s really stepped up his game this year, especially when we needed him when Eric went out,” said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. “He was playing great prior to that, but then without Eric he maybe averaged 22 points a game. He had to play bigger minutes for us. He’s a great player.”
Phoenix was a surprising 19-11 on Dec. 30 when Bledsoe suffered meniscus damage to his knee and Dragic took the reigns of the franchise for 33 games. The Suns went 17-16 over that span and stayed afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. All Dragic did was average 22.3 points per game on 52.4 percent shooting and 46.4 percent from three to go with 6.4 assists per game and an exact two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.
All this was done with Dragic suffering sore and bruised ribs due to his fearlessness in traffic and all-out effort. “My body is not fresh anymore,” Dragic admitted to SheridanHoops. But that hasn’t stopped him from putting up by far his best season as a pro.
For the season, Dragic is averaging 20.4 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting and 41.3 percent from three, all career highs and incredible numbers for a point guard.
|Dragic Career Highs||Number|
|Field Goal %||50.8|
|3 FG %||41.3|
|True Shooting %||61|
|Effective FG %||56.4|
|Offensive Win Shares||7.3|
“I think his numbers in this situation makes him an All-Star,” said veteran Suns guard Leandro Barbosa. While Dragic missed out on becoming an All-Star this season, his career-best numbers stack up pretty well compared to the rest of the league.
|Offensive Win Shares||7.3||7|
|True Shooting %||61||8|
|Effective FG %||56.4||13|
|Free Throw Attempts||366||14|
|Assists Per Game||6||16|
|3-point FG %||41.3||17|
|Points Per Game||20.4||18|
So how has Dragic been meticulously breaking down opposing defenses with such regularity this season?