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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns ride Goran Dragic's strong play while struggling to control the paint

Here is your formal weekly recap for the Phoenix Suns with a look at all the games, the news and notes, key stats, NBA Draft updates, Quote of the Week, and more. Let's get it...

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the ugly loss to end the week, the Phoenix Suns (9-8) had a strong week in terms of rebounding after a losing skid and getting back on track. That was largely due to the career best play of point guard Goran Dragic.

Game Recaps

vs. Portland Trail Blazers - W (120-106) Full Recap

@ Utah Jazz - W (112-101) Full Recap

vs. Utah Jazz - L (112-104) Full Recap

The positives this week outweigh the negatives, if you want negatives scroll down to the Key Stat, but lets take a moment to appreciate the play of Dragic this week.

In three games he averaged 21.3 points, 9.3 assists, 53.5% shooting (50% from three), and took 8.6 free-throws a game. The efficient manner that Dragic was able to lead the team in scoring, assists, and free-throw attempts was impressive. He made as many free-throws as field goals, 23.

Production at this level has never been done by Dragic in his NBA career. He has come close with a few three game windows last year, but nothing near the 19+ points 9+ assists 50+% shooting and volume of free-throw shooting.

Dragic out-played Damian Lillard and then took rookie point guard Trey Burke to finishing school after that.

He was more impressive than ever shouldering the offensive load showing his ability to score in a variety of ways. Play like this always evens out over the course of an 82 game season. Last year Dragic showed this was a side of his game that can be tapped into, but did not have any help so defenses keyed on him. This year that can change with more offensive weapons around him to take some of the defensive pressure off of him.

For scorers at the NBA level, outside of the elite, efficiency is not a focus, which is something that Dragic was able to display this week. He was 18/33 from two, 5/10 from three, and 23/26 from the free-throw line. Efficiency in a nut shell.

This was the type of play that was expected when the Suns signed Dragic last summer and it took a year longer to get there, but this year feels more like the real Goran Dragic.

The Week of the Dragon is over, can this be the Year of the Dragon?

Key Stat

-3.0 & -5.4

In football a clean jersey for the quarterback is a sign that the offensive line did their job, they did the dirty work that is largely unnoticed, but leads to winning. A parallel for that in basketball is offensive rebounding and second chance points. This week the Suns were -3.0 in offensive rebounds per game and because of that gave up an additional 5.4 points per game in second chance points.

An exclamation point on this: The Suns gave up 106.3 points per game this week on average. Of that, 50.0 points per game came in the paint (and 20.6 from the free-throw line) showing the glaring hole inside right now. That is 66.4% of the opposing offenses production coming off of effort and from the free-throw line in...

Quote of the Week

We have the second youngest team in the league, I felt great today and I a thirty, so its like shoot... No excuse. Lets go out and play. This is all we have to do today. -- Channing Frye after the loss to the Jazz

2014 NBA Draft Update

Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns have one lottery pick (theirs) and with the current projections they do not own four picks yet. It was a pipe-dream to begin the season, but still something to root for. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:

Timberwolves (9-10) -- No. 10 Overall (Pick stays in Minnesota based on Protections) Somewhere between 8-10 the draft sees a bit of a cliff with the next tier. The T-Wolves get Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden here.

Suns (9-8) -- No. 14 Overall (Pick stays in Phoenix based on Protections) This is a soft part of the 2014 Draft where reaching is an option, but on the current Mock Draft Croatian wing Mario Hezonja is available and would be a solid pick up.

Wizards (8-9) -- No. 17 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) The Suns philosophy is to take the best player regardless of position and add elite athletes to the roster. Here they do both with Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell.

Pacers (16-1) -- No. 30 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) The third and final first round pick can be a Hail Mary pick, like last year, and on the current Mock Draft Indiana freshman forward Troy Williams can be just that. Long, active, athletic forward that has shown flashes early this season.

News & Notes

  • Eric Bledsoe returned to action this week playing 28 minutes as a pair of games scoring 19 and 13 points respectively off the bench shooting 55.0% from the field.
  • Since the All-Star Ballots were released on November 15th, Markieff Morris has averaged 10.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks on 38.8% shooting.

Suns History Lesson

This week in Suns History: December 8th, 1999 Charles Barkley's career came to an end in Philadelphia (playing for Houston) when he tore his left quadriceps on an attempted block...

This week in Suns History: December 9th, 1993 Kevin Johnson became the 13th player in NBA history to record 10 steals in a game...

Previewing the Week Ahead:

Tuesday, December 3rd @ Memphis Grizzlies (8-8)

Wednesday, December 4th @ Houston Rockets (13-5)

Friday, December 6th vs. Toronto Raptors (6-10)

The concept of the Suns playing to their opponents will be tested this month and that starts this week. Early in the season the Grizzlies have struggled to find consistency under a new head coach, but are at .500 and playing quality defense overall. Last year the Suns played some exciting games against the Grizzlies when they were contenders, and like the game against the Raptors on Friday to end the week, this will be a test of wills for the team.

Then there are the Rockets, who every team gets up for. They won the James Harden and Dwight Howard sweepstakes in back-to-back summers giving them the dynamic duo they were looking for.

Harden loves seeing the Suns. For his career he averages the most points per game (19.9) against the Suns that any other team that he has played at least 10+ games against. In his 14 games career against the Suns Harden is averaging 19.8 PPG 3.4 APG 4.7 RPG, maybe it is an Arizona State thing.

If the Suns catch themselves looking ahead they run the risk of dropping two out of three games.

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