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The NBA's most under appreciated players: Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic has been lights out from the field
Goran Dragic has been lights out from the field

There have been plenty of surprises and surprising players in the NBA this year. One of those players has been Goran Dragic, who has been a top point guard this year, however, he has been overlooked entirely, as people will continue to focus on the Kevin Durant's and the LeBron James' of the NBA. This isn't fair to players like Dragic, who have been playing like superstars but have been overlooked because of being on a small market NBA team.

Just how good has Dragic been? Well, here's the top-3 list of the NBA's Win Shares per 48 minutes leaders for the point guard position:

  1. Chris Paul: .278 WS/48
  2. Stephen Curry: .215 WS/48
  3. Goran Dragic: .204 WS/48

Normally, nobody would ever consider Dragic to be anywhere near as good as Curry or Paul, and they may be right; Curry is the NBA's best shooter at the moment, and is averaging 24.1 points per game and 8.8 assists, clearly one of the better guards in the league, despite his astronomical 4 turnovers per game and Paul is the best point guard in the game, hands down. Dragic has been good enough to be ranked 3rd in Win Shares per 48, over a very long list of very good point guards. Guys like John Wall, Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday are all very good point guards, but not nearly as good as Dragic has been this year.

It's really not hard to see how he has amassed that .204 Win Shares per 48, his 8.1 total Win Shares or his excellent 22.7 Player Efficiency Rating. It's going to be easy to be one of the leaders in advanced stats when your base stats include scoring 20.6 points per game, getting 6.2 assists per game and shooting a ridiculous (for a point guard) 51.2% from the floor. Dragic has done just about everything right on offense, helping diminish his average defense. Other than his percentage at the free throw line, which is 76.3%, he has basically been Steve Nash in terms of shooting, with his 51.2% total shooting percentage and his 41.4% shooting percentage from three point range. Taking a look at his shot chart, it's surprising he isn't at least average in every single area.

Dragic gets overlooked because the Suns are a relatively small market team who was expected to be bottom feeders in the West. Instead, Phoenix is 35-24 and battling for the 7th seed, thanks to Eric Bledsoe (before injury) and Dragic being one of the best starting back courts not only in the West, but in the whole NBA. Obviously, credit must be given to the rest of the Suns players; basketball is a team game, after all, but they wouldn't be anywhere near this position if not for the brilliance of Dragic and his excellent basketball I.Q. The way he runs the Suns' offense is a thing of beauty that most basketball fans don't have the privilege of watching.

Dragic's stock around the NBA is on the rise and it will be interesting to see if the Suns will resign him to a larger deal in the off season, or let his current deal play out after next season and risk Dragic declining his player option and leaving the Suns. There are positives and negatives to both: if the Suns don't resign him until absolutely necessary, then they get elite production for only 7.5 million a year. If they resign him now, they run the risk of Dragic's production merely being a mirage and may end up giving a lot of money to a player who isn't anywhere near worth it. If they wait until next season, or until he hits free agency, they risk Dragic wanting more money and/or getting into a bidding war with another team; this is a scenario the Suns wish to avoid, as they still must deal with Bledsoe's contract expiring this season. Lucky for them, they have plenty of cap space for next year, as they are only on the hook for 31 million in cap, though they'd like to avoid using all of that cap to keep Bledsoe and Dragic, if at all possible.

That being said, the Suns will still be watchful to see how the Dragic situation turns out; after all, they'd like to keep the 5th ranked offense in tact and Dragic is a major part of that.

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