Well, now we know. Goran Dragic’s performance for the Slovenian national team at EuroBasket 2013 earned him All-Tournament honors, putting him into the same category as fellow participants Tony Parker, Marc Gasol, Linas Kleiza and Bojan Bogdanovic.
It’s not necessarily surprising in Phoenix, where we’ve seen Dragic step up in big moments. Dragic’s memorable 23-point, fourth-quarter performance against the San Antonio Spurs in that 2010 playoff game lent evidence to his mettle. In his one season back in Phoenix since being traded to the Houston Rockets, Dragic separated himself as the best player on a very poorly-constructed roster.
Yet we haven’t seen Dragic’s reckless, attacking style lead to team success in a large sample size until this summer. The Phoenix Suns point guard very well could have been motivated by playing in front of a Slovenian crowd. Obviously, he wasn’t facing Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, et all every other day as he does in the NBA. And he shot below 40 percent, sometimes getting a bit trigger-happy from deep.
It’s hard to ignore where he took his Slovenian team, however. No, Dragic isn’t the most efficient when he’s forced to be the go-to guy. But it wasn’t as if Dragic was playing out of his own abilities, with the exception of a quaterfinal loss to the eventual champion French team. Through the entirety of EuroBasket, Dragic was a true floor general who led a team to a top-five finish. Slovenia arguably wasn’t a top-five team in terms of collective skillsets or athleticism, either.
For the upcoming season with the Suns, Dragic has a backcourt mate in Eric Bledsoe who can fill some of the many responsibilities that Dragic put on himself last year. He won’t be asked to defend elite point guards, and score, and create for others.
If the system’s right under Jeff Hornacek — and based on how Slovenia played, it will be — Dragic’s best is to come.
When the Suns’ record looks bad this coming season, there are bound to be negative comments tossed his way. It’ll be just like last year. But there are now more bits of evidence that suggest Dragic indeed does more with less.