WARNING! This is not a trade post - proceed after the Jump at your own risk...
This is a follow-up report to my preseason post: Already Dumping on Dragic? A Tragic Mistake
Call him Frosty, The Slovenian Sniper, Magic Dragic, The Dragon, The Slovenian Sun, but don't call him a Bust.
At this point, 46 games into his Sophomore year as an NBA player, Goran Dragic has made supporters like me look good, proved his critics wrong and found a place in the hearts of the indifferent citizens of Planet Orange with his new found confidence and performance on the hardwood.
Am I writing this now because Frosty went off for career highs of 32 points against the Jazz last night and 20 against the Warriors a few nights prior? Am I writing this now because over the last two games Dragic is averaging 26 points shooting 68.2% from the field (15/22), 69.2% from downtown (9/13), and 81.3% from the line (13/16)? Maybe I'm writing this because over the last 17 games he is averaging 10.4 points shooting 50% from the field and 46.8% from the three-point line?
Yes, I probably am writing this write now because of all those reasons - otherwise I would undoubtedly be putting off writing a follow up to my original post until the end of the year. But I can't help it - this Frosty dude is what keeps me coming back for more every game day, especially now that the team is struggling to regain its collective confidence and pull their heads out of the ground. So on that note I decided to focus on the positive and revisit my preseason plea for patience and issue a mid-season report card to our young pasty Slovenian Shark.
He gets an A+. Simple as that - the grading criteria for me at the beginning of the season was that he should show signs of constant improvement technically and also with his confidence. There is no doubt he has not only exceeded my expectations but I'm pretty sure he has blown away a lot of Suns fans and left his name and Frosty face ingrained in the minds of players and teams around the league. I know C.J. Watson knows who Dragic is. Jamal Tinsley definitely knows who Dragic is.
Derrick Rose knows... No doubt the Utah Jazz know who Goran Dragic is, heck, this report from the Deseret News is evidence that all of Salt Lake City knows who he is:
The Phoenix Suns have 40 percent of the Western Conference's All-Star starters in Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. They also have other veteran NBA stars in Grant Hill and Jason Richardson on their roster.
A 30-point game by any of those "name" players wouldn't have surprised anyone at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday night.Instead, it was baby-faced Slovenian guard Goran Dragic, who blistered the nets for Phoenix and had many Utah Jazz fans in the crowd asking, "Who is that guy?
Dragic has benefited greatly from the tutelage of Steve Nash and also from the increased playing time due to Leandro Barbosa's injuries. Floor time with the two-time MVP at the 2-guard spot has really highlighted his improved shooting and helped to germinate the seeds of confidence that should only grow with more playing time and experience.
So just for fun I decided to take a look at how his statistics so far this year match up with his draft "Class" or "Generation" of guards. A pretty respectable list I might add. From the 2008 draft there are currently 14 active guards still in the NBA.
So how do the numbers match up? Here we go, Lets first see this seasons Per Game Averages (Click on them to see enlarged table).
Let me break down where Goran ranks in this pool of 13 peers - should save you some headaches
Now we'll do the same for the Per 36 Minutes stat category - level the playing field.
Again - Dragic's ranks -
This season Dragic has provided Phoenix and Steve Nash with exactly what they have needed from a back up PG - energy, defense, ball-handling, and scoring. To me his scoring numbers have been the most impressive feature of his game this year. By far he is the best shooter out of his class - He ranks #1 from the three-point stripe and is the only Sophomore Guard with a 3P% over 40 at 42.1 - the next closest is O.J. Mayo who is shooting 38.3% from downtown. His FG% as well is impressive and only trails Derrick Rose by .001 for the top spot - with D.Rose shooting 47.4% and Dragic shooting 47.3%.
In the Points per 36 category as well Dragic is right in the mix for the 2nd spot (D.Rose is a beast at nearly 20pts per 36) behind only Bayless and Gordon. But what stands out to me about Goran with regards to his scoring - is that not only does he score but he also fills the other stat categories with big rebounds and steals and even a block every now and then. He is in the top 5 for assists with 4.9 per 36, but his assist/turnover ratio isn't as stellar as we would hope - yet I attribute a large portion of that problem area to the fact that Goran has played alongside Nash as a combo guard and isn't given the primary ball-handling responsibilities. Also - when he is engaged as the true PG, he has been directed to dump the ball of either to a post or wing player - or they run sets with the bigs planted on the perimeter who sentinel the ball until a cutter or curler is open for a pass, all of this limits the opportunities for Dragic to register more assists.
I am amazed at times by Dragic's ability to slice and weave through traffic on the break and find his way to the rim, step back and nail a jumper, or make a good transition/fast break pass. As he continues to improve his vision and awareness offensively I would love to see him peel his defenders off of screens better as the ball handler and penetrate the paint like Nash does so well and whenever he wants. I have no doubt he will continue improve and surprise us all with his handling skills and offensive leadership.
Overall I think I speak for a lot of people - if not everyone - when I say that the development of our young Slovenian Stud has been a much needed positive story amidst the storm of frustration and speculation engulfing the team currently. Here's to his continued success.