Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Goran Dragic wins the 2014 NBA Most Improved Player award


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.

  • http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/b4e154c4d2006246826b881f5d4e7da65994186a/c=169-0-3866-2776&r=x513&c=680x510/local/-/media/Phoenix/Phoenix/2014/04/17//1397709685010-Suns8.jpg Suns Fan in Portland

    Man oh man. As I am also a Blazer fan, I’m glad LA is still here in the Northwest. However, last summer things were looking kind of dicey, and at that time I thought there was a good chance he could have ended up on the Suns. After the way he’s proven himself this season, imagine if he had been on this year’s Suns team… Wow, that would have been a match made in heaven. All the Suns are missing is a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge. I’d gladly settle for a Kevin Love instead though…

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Doug Gottlieb, on the show Lead Off, with Allie LaForce, said Blake Griffin should have won Most Improved Player award although he did give props to Dragic.
    btw…Allie LaForce is smoking Hot & bears a striking resemblance to Michelle Phillips of “Mamas & Papas” fame….Phillips was hot enough to get a song written about her by Paul McCartney….”Michelle”.

    Harden wouldn’t take 28 shots if he had Durant on his team.

    Forever
    While the Supreme Court drags it’s heels on the Hobby Lobby case, there may be a more interesting case coming up in your backyard.

    The FDIC just filed a massive 24 count Civil Suit against the 16 largest banks in the world for LIBOR manipulation.
    This includes the 3 largest banks in the USA…JP Morgan, Bank of America & CitiGroup.
    California juries are famous for their large Punitive Damage awards & this could be the biggest of all time.

    ps….I’m all for signing Jordan Hill (UFA) in the off-season.

  • EBJM

    Westbrook 9-26 in their loss last night and he does have Durant on his team.

  • foreveris2long

    Hawki, Man I am going to look into the FDIC case. Thanks for the heads up. I will say since the case is likely filed in Federal court, the California juries you reference are normally superior court juries. Federal Court is normally a lot more conservative. In fact if I am representing an employee in a labor dispute in federal court I have to tell them in 68% of the cases, the employee loses. Employers love federal court.

    Suns make the playoffs with Jordan Hill, a cheap power forward fix.

    EBJM, if OKC loses this series there could be trouble in paradise. I listened to Eddie Johnson video last night on Westbrook and he talks about how Westbrook takes too many shots and does not get the ball to Ibaka enough. I tend to agree with him.

  • foreveris2long

    Hawki, just took a glance at the LIBOR issue. Yeah I agree the Banks, if dirty, will not like the outcome of this one. Even in federal court the numbers could be staggering.Thanks again as I had not heard about this.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever
    You’re welcome…..oh they’re dirty all right….only ? is how dirty….there is not enough space here for me to describe their’s & the IMF’s ill-gotten gains.

    EBJM
    My point exactly….Westbrook throwing up 25+ shots with KD on the team…& Lamb gets a DNP ….crazy

  • Foreveris2long

    Hawki, if you have not read it, check out the summary of the Buffalo Bills cheerleaders action (not yet filed) regarding wages, whether they are employees or independent contractors and sexual harassment. Not a lot of $ but very interesting issues.

  • EBJM

    Forever, the sexual harassment issue is funny IMO. For argument’s sake I think we can all agree that cheerleaders are used for entertainment that includes their beauty and sexuality. Does any cheerleader go into the business not believing they are going to leered at and fantasized about by both pubescent boys and old men alike?

    Admittedly their complaint goes beyond that, to specific incidents of groping and touching by FANS at promotional events, not by Bill’s employees. That is a criminal matter, not the Bills.

    Secondly they are “contract workers” The current wave of employer-employee relations that allow employers to have a pool of qualified employees to perform necessary functions when needed without having to provide any of the traditional perks such as healthcare and retirement plans.

    In this era of “contract” employees, it minimizes the cost to employers on the execution of specific types of work by basically paying the “contract” worker “piece rate”.

    It is very effective way to motivate an employee to perform at a speed that will allow him to earn substantially more money and not “milking” the clock and costing the employer extra wages or overtime for those employees who prefer to work slow or “ride” the clock because they are getting paid by the hour.

    I’ve heard from people who have opinions on both sides. Some love the opportunity to earn more by working harder and faster and those who cannot and end up losing money because they don’t.

    They are complaining about that relationship and also having to provide their own cosmetics,hair and nail services to maintain a specific appearance set by the Bills. That is like a carpenter complaining because he has to bring his own tools to the job site or having to purchase his own OSHA required safety equipment.

    What is appears to me is the cheerleaders need to organize and hire agents to get them better contracts.

    I believe this is one of your areas of legal expertise so I eagerly await you opinion counselor.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Professional cheerleaders have been grossly underpaid for years.
    NFL’s revenue last year was close to $10 Billion…hope the women get all they can.

    ps…would have said more but too hard to type on this website during day….have to hit each letter 4-5 times to show up….this sentence took almost 5 minutes to type.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM,
    Yeah I have handled a number of sexual harassment, wages and employee/independent contractor issues. They are fun issues. While essentially you make good points as to the workers being independent contractors, in California and throughout most of the country, the more control a company has (Northwestern football players) and the ability of the company to terminate the contract or relationship AT WILL, are strong indications the workers will be deemed employees.

    I have a case today in litigation where the worker signed a contract that said he is an independent contractor. Despite the contract, I was successful in proving to the Labor Commissioner he was in fact an employee, which now helps me in my lawsuit. It is a great issue that both sides typically feel very strong about. Just a hunch, without seeing any evidence, based on set times they have to practice and perform (control), they will have good arguments they are employees. It will help the company in that the ladies purchase their own uniforms.

    Regarding the sexual harassment, employers (if proven) generally have a duty not to subject their employees to a sexually hostile work environment. I think you are probably correct in that inappropriate suggestive comments should likely be expected in this type of work and probably will not constitute a hostile work environment. There was a case in California within the past year or two involving a tv show where sexual comments were frequently made in filming sessions but were expected for that particular show which in part was the basis for the court denying the sexual harassment.

    Now if the company is allowing the cheerleaders to be touched/groped by fans, it could help the cheerleaders case even though the culprits are not employees. While the employer cannot directly control the fans, they should probably make a reasonable effort to avoid the cheerleaders from being groped. What most courts hold is employers have a duty not to subject employees to a sexually or racially hostile work environment.

    Is my man Hawki on an island where there is no internet?

  • Foreveris2long

    Someone please call Spiderman to pick up Hawki and bring him ashore.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever
    I’m on an unknown island…..looking for Ginger & MaryAnn.

  • Foreveris2long

    My man, always making the best of a dire situation. Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Dave:f32

    @DZ we are cool man. I was just joshing ya. I know what mean. Lol

  • EBJM

    That is fascinating insight Forever. I’ve come across a couple of professions that have relied heavily upon contract labor. My examples are from right to work states such as Nevada and Arizona.

    One that I find most interesting is Cox Cable and their use of contract installers. The independent installer must work through a licensed and bonded contractor who takes close to 50% of their pay just for that simple reason.

    The installer must provide his own truck and equipment. They are have to pay for gas, truck maintenance and insurance. They are required to finish all the jobs given to them regardless of the time.

    They are given a route to minimize travel but if their first customer isn’t home but calls back while they are at the end of the route they must return without compensation for travel expenses. They must also return to any job and fix anything Cox tells them to fix without compensation.

    The other are CAD operators for Engineers and Architects. They are getting paid a set fee per job and work out of their homes. So they must have very expensive CAD software on their own home computers. They must also perform corrections and changes without extra compensation.

    In Nevada despite being paid as independent contractors, the State requires the licensed contractor to withhold taxes as if they are a regular employee instead of letting the independents pay their own taxes and receiving a 1099 at the end of the year.

    I wonder if you would have similar success in Nevada, ranked #19th in corruptible governments in our country. I know of young attorneys who do not want to practice criminal law in Las Vegas because the Judges, District Attorney’s office and Las Vegas Metro get together in back rooms and decide which defendants they will allow to exercise their Constitutional Rights to Due Process.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM,
    While I worked in Arizona about 9 years ago for 3 years, I did not have to address employee/indep contractor issues so I am definitely in the dark in those jurisdictions. However the examples you gave above probably would receive a lot of support for the workers being classified as independent contractors in a lot of jurisdictions because they have their own trucks/vehicles and it is task oriented without a necessary time schedule. They are great issues. Another reason some companies prefer the independent contractor status for workers is so they avoid securing workers compensation insurance and paying into a state required unemployment fund.

    You are very insightful EBJM.

  • EBJM

    For those of you who want to get a glimpse of what Alex Len could look like next year tune into ESPN for the Raptors – Nets game and watch Jonas Valanciunas who will turn 22 next month.

    He has been killing Kevin Garnett so far in the first two games of their series.