Name: Goran Dragic
Team: Miami Heat
2016-17 Regular Season Traditional Stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 47.5 percent FG%, 40.5 percent 3PT%, 79 percent FT%
2016-17 Regular Season Advanced Stats: 19.8 PER, 57.5 TS%, 7.5 WS, 3.4 OBPM, -0.7 DBPM, 2.9 VORP
Coming in at number 37 on the Society Top 50 is the Dragon, Goran Dragic.
Dragic burst onto the NBA stage in 2013-14 with the Phoenix Suns as a pace-setting point guard that could get out into the open court and torch defenses. His craftiness, speed and patience in addition to then-Suns coach Jeff Hornacek’s transition-happy offense made him a 20-point scorer for the first time.
The sudden burst in production led to a spike in Dragic’s value, eventually leading to him getting traded to the Miami Heat only one season removed from his breakout year.
Goran’s first full season in Miami was one to forget, at least by his standards. His scoring slouched to only 14.1 ppg last year, his lowest since 2013, as the Heat continued to run the majority of their offense through an aged Dwyane Wade.
Wade is undoubtedly one of the greatest shooting guards of all time, Goran Dragic is not. With that being said, Wade was far from the right fit beside Dragic.
This would be like taking a Ferrari engine (in this case, Dragic) and putting it in a car with no wheels (Wade). Doesn’t matter how great that engine is, it isn’t going anywhere. Dragic’s free-wheeling, run-and-gun play style simply failed to click with Wade’s iso and mid-range heavy games. At 34-years-old, Wade simply couldn’t keep up with what Dragic is capable of doing, and it essentially put Dragic in handcuffs.
(Side note: Could you imagine Dragic on those Miami Big Three teams, alongside prime LeBron, Wade and Bosh, getting out in transition and running all over teams? That’d be fun)
With Wade returning home to Chicago last offseason though, the stage was set for a more fast-paced Heat offense to take over. With Dragic manning the wheel, that’s exactly what happened.
The Heat’s 2016-17 story has been well documented.
11-30 on January 13, coach Erik Spoelstra rallied the troops to finish the season at 41-41, only one game shy of the playoffs.
Much of that second half rebirth was fueled by Dragic. After missing eight games over the first half of the season (the Heat went a brutal 1-7 in those contests), Dragic missed only one over the second half. Most importantly though, Dragic played like one of the best point guards in the league during Miami’s frantic playoff push.
Over those final 41 games, Dragic averaged 21.4 points a night on 49.1 percent shooting from the field and an absurd 41.1 percent from deep. Dion Waiters may have snatched the headlines with his temper and ego, but it was Dragic that was actually pushing that Heat team towards the playoffs all second half with his steady but tough play.
Now 31, Dragic isn’t getting any younger. He’s a nine year NBA veteran that has always been credited for toughness, but the problem with toughness is that eventually, you break down no matter what. Eventually, Father Time will come for Dragic, but for now he remains one of the games most undder appreciated stars and a focal point of what could be a return to playoff prominence in Miami.
Goran is definitely in the second act of his career, but being paired with a coach that “gets” how he plays has proven to be a Holy Grail for Dragic.
Hornacek got it.
Spoelstra gets it.
Hand Goran Dragic the ball, point at the other team’s basket and say, “Go.”