The Most Valuable Player award is the highest individual honor in an NBA season. It has its own perennial contenders like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or Chris Paul. However, every season there’s a few guys that make it in the fringe discussion for the prestigious award. Goran Dragic is apparently on of those dark-horse candidates.
In the Suns Friday night win vs the New Orleans pelicans, Dragic’s availability was in question. He had suffered an ankle sprain in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves three days prior. However, Dragic’s parents had come to watch him all the way from his native Slovenia and he was adamant that he was good to go so the Suns staff decided to let him play. That proved to be a great decision. Dragic scored a career-high 40 points, leading the Suns to victory.
The interesting part was this: With 25 seconds left in the game, the Pelicans were forced to foul Dragic, who had 38 points. As he stepped up to the line, hoping to hit the 40 mark, U.S. Airways center exploded in cheers of “MVP!” for him.
Was this a crazy idea from Suns fans, a nice gesture, or is there logic behind this?
Dragic season averages are very impressive. He’s putting up 20.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 6.1 APG while shooting 51 percent from the filed and 41.5 percent from three-point range. He, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant are the only three players in the NBA to average 19+ points and 5+ assists while shooting at least 48 percent. That’s really an impressive club to be in. He’s shown excellent progress this season, setting new career high points numbers twice this week, thrice this month, and four times this season.
NBA.com does a weekly MVP race, and Dragic has hung around the middle from a while, ranging between fifth and seventh place in recent weeks, so this idea that he is an MVP candidate isn’t isolated to the Suns arena.
Ultimately though, in considering the Most Valuable Player, the question is what Dragic means to the Suns. When his backcourt partner Eric Bledsoe was injured, the Suns surprising season looked to be in jeopardy. The Dragon, however, has fully carried the team on his shoulders. When he had to nurse his injured ankle, the Suns were crushed by a very weak Jazz team, showing that they need him.
This can be clearly seen in any given game, where the Suns average about eleven less points without Dragic on the floor than when they do with him. It’s Steve Nash-like how smoothly the offense runs when he is in, and how quickly it rusts when he sits. Without him, the Suns are nothing like they are right now
Will Dragic win the MVP award? No. There’s just bigger names and better players. However, there’s no doubt that his name should be in everyone’s minds as they vote for who will win that award. His value to the Suns as a player is immense and it is very easy to see that. His competitive spirit and toughness are admirable, and his extraordinary humility and leadership are qualities that can be found in few other MVP candidates.
So no, the chants of MVP for the Dragon weren’t far-fetched at all. Even if his chances of actually winning are slim to none, it was the highest showing of appreciation the Suns could give him for all his work, especially after he was snubbed from the All-Star game and there’s solid reason to believe that he should be at least acknowledged as a legitimate candidate. After hearing those chants for Steve Nash in the first stint with the Suns, it meant the world to him to hear those for himself. He even said afterwards that he wouldn’t ever forget that.
Even if he can’t win the league MVP, two things are certain: Saying he should be considered is based in sound reasoning, and he is bar none the Suns Most Valuable Player.