It is a well known fact that one of the best ways to ramp up your career is to play for the Phoenix Suns and be traded away. Countless numbers of players have gone through this cycle [a number I can't count only for a lack of an ability to provide actual proof of this theory - just go with it], and in two cases, have returned to the Valley as completely different players.
For the past several seasons, we have been watching "patient zero" as he returned to the fold to rise from the ashes and win two MVP awards. Over that time, and up until about a few months ago, Suns fans worshiped this idol as best in franchise history, and believed no mortal would ever come close to supplanting his glory.
Ah, how things have changed.
The great Reggie Hammond once said "There is a new Sheriff in town, and his name is Goran Dragic."
OK, that last part was embellished.
Apparently not one to eschew the traditions and teaching of his master, young skywalker took his teachings seriously and decided he must snatch the pebble from his master's hand... Wait, now I am getting all mixed up. Let's forget the movie metaphors and stick with real life.
As with the one never to be spoken of again, it was his path away from the Suns that allowed Dragic to understand that his place in the NBA was not simply one of accident. Dragic left the comforts of the team he was most familiar with, and like Leandro Barbosa, was given the opportunity to sink or swim in the shark infested waters of a team that knew little of him and wasn't personally invested in his well-being.
Unlike Barbosa, who without the coddling sank like a rock and was exposed for the inefficient gunner/non-passingest point guard in the NBA [a tough title to win], Dragic found out that, "hey, i actually am pretty good and can play in this league!"
Now the prodigal Sun returns, following the same path as that guy, you know, the one a lot of people hate, but some still revere, except for the LA part... It's complicated.
In a very short time, Dragic has proven, to me at least, that he is for real. The Rockets made an INCREDIBLE TRADE to obtain him, giving up basically nothing and also getting a draft pick. Morey was a genius. That was then.
In electing to allow Dragic to hit free agency without throwing the kitchen sink at him, Morey decided that he would take the gamble on Jeremy Lin.
If you were to poll the entire NBA Fan Nation whether they would prefer to have Lin or Dragic right now, what do you think the outcome of that poll would look like. Would it be 99% for Dragic or 100%. Don't get me wrong, Lin is a nice player, a sort of "yellow" chocolate kind of player. That might be intriguing enough to take a bite of, but you will definitely be paying for that indulgence later.
While I am not anointing Dragic an MVP, or even an all-star at this point, what I am confident in saying is that Dragic is absolutely solid. He is Kirk Hinrich with actual point guard skills and offensive capabilities. This is a guy that will start the rest of his career and I believe will at the very least be considered one of the upper tier [top half] among point guards in the league.
What has impressed me with Dragic is that he plays balls out. We all loved Jared Dudley [rest in peace] when he used to play for us. We admired his IQ and the fact that he would hustle his way into almost every play. But nobody on this team plays harder than Dragic. This guy is the antithesis of everyone's complaints about the Suns point guard position over the last eight years, yet isn't showing any of the downside that we would expect if we were relegated to a defensive specialist point guard [Bassy].
Offensively, is Dragic a magical talent? No. But is he a good offensive player who makes solid decisions and can produce points? Yes. Is he capable of taking and hitting big shots? Yes. Can he distribute and find teammates at a clip nearly equitable to the top point guards in this league? I believe yes. In fact, on this last point, if his teammates were better finishers, and some were less dribbly [and shot jackey], I would contend that Dragic would be leading the league in assists right now.
But it is the defensive end and the hustle that stand out to me. This guy has no quit. He refuses to get beat off the dribble and stays with the play. He routinely out-hustles everyone on the floor. He is an all-defensive player in this league and if not voted on to that honor, something is wrong in the world. If some risk taking steal hogger gets all of the defensive love for his stupid stats, despite the fact that player probably gives up more than he steals by constantly being out of position, I will be in a rage.
So, the circle of life come full...circle? Dragic has waxed on and waxed off. He is now the master of his domain. What I am trying to say is that Dragic is fricken awesome and we should all be happy that Sarver was stupid enough to pay him.