With the Phoenix Suns, we're all looking for THE reason
As if you can narrow down exactly why the Suns bear no resemblance to the Sherman Tank the entire NBA expected this season.
Is it Jeff Hornacek? Of course. Just the other day, Magic Johnson himself tweeted out that he should be the coach of the year.
Ryan McDonough? Yep. Finally a general manager with the knowledge of what is necessary and the actual willingness to do it.
Gerald Green? Miles Plumlee? Markieff Morris? The Eric Bledsoe trade? Improved defense? Checkmarks across the board.
Even much-maligned owner Robert Sarver -- featured in this early nominee for most unlikely headline of the year -- has caught a ride on the road to redemption.
I'm not sure Goran Dragic is getting enough credit. I don't think people are talking enough about the season he's having.
In a thoughtful piece about the criteria behind the award for Most Improved Player, SI.com prominently mentioned Dragic:
Dragic is playing all of 1.3 minutes more than he did for Phoenix last season, and if anything has seen his workload lessened by playing alongside Eric Bledsoe. Yet his scoring is up (from 15.8 points per 36 minutes to 20.1), his shooting efficiency has risen (54.3 effective field goal percentage, up from 49.1), and his turnovers have dipped (16.8 turnover rate to 14.4). All of those marks are career bests for a 27-year-old guard filling the same role for the same team, though it's worth noting that the arrival of Bledsoe and hiring of Hornacek have had a bit to do with Dragic's terrific season. Still, his improvement is his own — he's more confident and competent than ever, and as sound a choice as you'll find by this MIP definition.
At his very best, Dragic was a solid player. Not great, not on the cusp of great, just solid. Solid but not spectacular.
His unexpected jump to that next level -- to the cusp of greatness -- is arguably the most significant development for these Suns. A listener tweeted me Tuesday suggesting that his status as a late-bloomer is similar to that of Steve Nash. Interesting thought.
The hope here is that Dragic is rewarded for his performance with a spot in the All-Star game.
Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo