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Already Dumping Dragic? A Tragic Mistake

Inspired by recently intensified comments and murmurs concerning Goran Dragic's performance so far as a member of the Phoenix Suns - hear out my two cents as to why I believe jumping on the 'dump Dragic' train would be a tragic mistake. 

 

To start off - I will concede that the front-office hype surrounding Goran Dragic was too much last year.  I blame a small part of the sour taste in the mouths of a seemingly growing group of Suns supporters on that.  But I feel the major source of the Dragic negativity lies within those very same Suns fans who were swayed by an over-excited and almost giddy new GM in Steve Kerr, who saw a diamond in the rough in Goran.   You see - a majority of Suns have forgotten how spoiled they really are when it comes to the PGs  who have graced our team's roster.   For practically the entire history of the franchise we have had all-star caliber, if not hall-of-fame caliber PGs.  

From Westphal to Hornacek - to Kevin Johnson to Jason Kidd - even Starbury to Nash.   How long has it been since we haven't had an all-star PG commandeering our team?  In fact... how long has it been since we have had to endure the development of a PG... does it go back to Hornacek? (Nash did a lot of his development in Dallas)

The truth is - as Charley Rosen succinctly put it in an article, "the point position is the most complex, and is therefore the most difficult for young players to master".   Development of point guards requires A LOT of on the court minutes - feeling the game - learning the opponent - mastering and perfecting technique.  In the most recent history I can only think of Christ Paul in 05' to be a starting rookie PG who drastically affected his team positively and put up big numbers.  He is a freak of nature.  So besides CP3 - PGs are slow developing players.  Be Patient with young Goran the Dragon - give him time, it's not an 'add-water' recipe, even with Steve Nash as the supervisor. 

In fact - coming into your rookie year as back-up PG is even tougher than coming in as a starter because of the lack of minutes given to the back up PG.  Though I think being a back-up of a future hall-of-famer as a new player in league can only accelerate future progress (see Steve Nash). It will just take a little more time.   Be patient with Dragic.  Before I prove this with some sweet charts I spent a grip of time making - consider this:

We know what kind of a roller-coaster year it was for our Phoenix Suns - I won't bore you - but it is interesting to see the major improvements Goran Dragic made after the coaching switch was made from Terry Porter to Alvin Gentry and a more up-tempo style was unleashed once again. Take a look at some of his important statistics before and after the coaching change.

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The difference is pretty drastic.  While improving practically all of his stats, the most notable improvement was in his PPG and his 3P% where they basically were doubled.  I think it's safe to say we can expect more of that kind of improvement and production as Goran gets more playing time and as he gets more comfortable in the league in a more stable environment this year compared to that of his rookie year.   All signs so far (with the exception of his poor pre-season shooting numbers) this offseason point in this direction.  Again - be patient.

 

Now to the good stuff.  I've taken the rookie year 'per game' stats of the current top 6 point guards in the league and placed them next to Dragic's season average numbers... (keep in mind the minutes played - and the vast difference in Goran's numbers from the beginning of the year under T.P. to the end of the year with A.G.)

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The biggest discrepancy accross the board is in the minutes played - out of the 7 point guards examined - 5 were basically starters their rookie year and logged major minutes learning, acclimating and feeling out the PG position - yet compared to the 2 other players who weren't starters right away (Nash and Davis), Goran's numbers aren't as bad the naysayers and Dragic haters would like you to believe.

So in order to really see how well our young Slovenian stand-out did his rookie year compared to these top point guards we need to adjust the numbers according to a constant variable.  Luckily for me - most stat sites already do that by providing the average stats a player puts up 'per 36 minutes played'.  (What would I do without www.basketball-reference.com?) So take a look at this next graphic and see where Goran stands.  It doesn't look bad AT ALL.  In fact - according to these numbers he is performing extremely well and in some cases has out-performed some of these superstar's rookie numbers. (Note that CP3 was already averaging 36 minutes a game - so his numbers stay the same).

4029821283_d6888deae2_o_medium

To finish up - I am not trying to convince anyone that Goran Dragic is the next Steve Nash or the next Deron Williams.  But what I am suggesting is that we take the blinders off and lend some patience to this young talented player.  We have seen flashes of brilliance and exhibitions of dominance and style from Dragic already - the consistency and confidence will come with time.  

 

Be patient, he'll make mistakes and make you pull some hair, but give the hating a rest... - and enjoy the fact that we are able to witness first hand the development of PG - that's something that hasn't happened here in Phoenix for a long time.

 

 

 


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