A day after Jeff Hornacek came in second place to Gregg Popovich in the Coach of the Year voting, Goran Dragic ended the trail of Phoenix Suns snubs — fairly or unfairly labeled — during the 2013-14 season.
The NBA named the Suns point guard as the 2014 winner of the Most Improved Player award.
Out of 126 ballots from NBA writers and broadcasters, the Slovenian earned 65 first-place votes and 408 total points. Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson came in second place by earning 158 points and 13 first-place votes, and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis trailed him with 155 points and 16 first-place votes.
Dragic averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists per game and is the first guard since the late Drazen Petrovic to average more than 20 points per game, shoot better than 50 percent from the floor and hit better than 40 percent from three-point range. A year before Petrovic, current Suns coach Jeff Hornacek hit the same mark — Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the only current players that also have joined that short all-time list.
Perhaps an All-Star snub, Dragic certainly made vast improvements in his game since last season.
Dragic averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 assists per game on a lottery-bound Suns team in 2012-13 and when searching for what made the point guard much improved, look no further than the development of his jump shot. Dragic shot 44 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three-point range last year.
“In the past when he took that step-back … you’re like, ‘He might make it, he might not’” Hornacek said in February. “Now every time he shoots it, I think he’s going to make it.”
Efficiency was the name of the game for Dragic this season.
The 27-year-old was ninth in the NBA with a 60.4 true shooting percentage, according to Basketball-Reference. He was 20th with a PER of 21.43, ranked 19th in field goals made, 14th in free throws attempted, 15th in assists, 18th in three-point percentage and assists per game, 17th in points per game, ninth in offensive win shares and 15th in total win shares.