Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Birthday: May 6, 1986
Experience: 5 years
Draft: 2008, 45th overall by San Antonio
2013-14 Salary: $7,500,000
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Season Outlook: Without any facilitators or one-on-one threats last year, Goran Dragic took the brunt of the load as such and earned the “Rocky” nickname from interim coach Lindsey Hunter for his bruises and battle scars. At the end of that season, Dragic said he’d benefit most from the Suns adding a teammate or two that could take some ball-handling duties away from him. Dragic got his wish this summer with Phoenix acquiring Eric Bledsoe from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Coach Jeff Hornacek made it clear that Dragic and Bledsoe were to play together, with either acting as point guard to more quickly start a fastbreak — Dragic, after all, can play off the ball and did so as a teammate of Steve Nash. Both Dragic and Bledsoe would both start in a positionless backcourt to fit a growing trend in the NBA, but from there it is still unclear what each’s role will be. Who finishes a game? Who gets teammates into sets in halfcourt situations?
And is Dragic on the trading block? For now, he’s still one of Phoenix’s favorite players, and along with Bledsoe one of the most talented.
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: