Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Birthday: May 6, 1986
Experience: 4 years
Draft: 2008, 45th overall by San Antonio
2012-13 Salary: $7,500,000
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Season Outlook: Goran Dragic enters the 2012-13 season as the Suns’ point guard of the present and future as well as one of the brightest young stars on the team, just as the organization drew it up all along.
Of course, Dragic took a circuitous route back to the role of Suns lead guard and Steve Nash’s successor, but after breaking out last season in Houston the Suns have staked a good portion of their future to The Dragon. It’s for good measure as Dragic showed what he could do as a starter last year by averaging a stellar 18.0 points and 8.4 assists in 28 games in a starting role.
The Suns expect Dragic to continue to push the tempo in Phoenix while providing a solid defensive presence and being a capable shooter and an able passer. Dragic, often timid as a younger player, seems completely at ease and much more confident than he was when he left. To some he looks like a different player altogether.
Dragic receives a $1 million bonus ever year he earns an All-Star trip with the Suns, and while that seems out of reach this season it would be no surprise to see him tear off something like 16 points and eight assists per game while ably carrying the point guard torch that has been passed from KJ to Kidd to Marbury and to Nash before landing in his lap. — Michael Schwartz
Biography: Goran Dragic was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and it didn’t take long for him to immerse himself into the basketball world, as he entered professional basketball in 2003 at age 17. He played with the Slovenian 2D League club Ilirija Ljubljana for one year before transferring to Slovenian Premier A League and Adriatic League club KD Slovan in 2004. After a pit stop with the Spanish ACB Club Dragic finally landed in the Slovenian league with Euroleague Club Olimpija Ljubljana in 2007, where he won the Slovenian League Championship.
Dragic was then drafted 45th overall in 2008 by the San Antonio Spurs before they traded his rights to the Suns. Phoenix was finally able to reach a buyout on September 22, 2008 to bring Dragic to the Suns for his rookie year. Then-GM Steve Kerr declared Dragic the second-best point guard in the draft, but the timid lefty never lived up to expectations, suffering through style changes and a lack of confidence with Terry Porter as head coach.
Once Alvin Gentry took over Dragic began showing flashes of greatness, which became an everyday routine in his second season, as he averaged 7.9 points per game and exploded in the playoffs. Dragic always dreamed of playing in the NBA and would stay up in the wee hours of the morning to watch stars like Michael Jordan play. Dragic is fluent in four languages and also has a younger brother named Zoran, who played in NBA Summer League in 2012.
The Suns traded Dragic to the Houston Rockets with a first-round draft pick for Aaron Brooks at the 2011 trade deadline. The deal was widely deemed a failure, which the Suns made up for by signing Dragic back as a free agent during the summer of 2012. He received a four-year, $30 million contract with $4 million worth of incentives for making the All-Star team.
Links to ValleyoftheSuns coverage of Dragic: