Suns Believe in Dragic

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
By Brad G. Faye,
Posted: June, 26, 2008

After going with a domestic big man in the first round with the selection of Stanford center Robin Lopez, the Suns did a complete 180 in round two of the 2008 NBA Draft, trading for Slovenian guard Goran Dragic.

The 6-4 combo guard – whose last name is actually pronounced DRAG-itch – was originally selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 45th overall pick, but the Suns worked the phones and managed to create a little magic of their own. In exchange, Phoenix traded the rights to their 48th overall pick, Malik Hairston, a 2009 second-round pick and cash.

“(Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations) David Griffin and I were on the phones from about the 31st pick to the 41st pick trying to get something done and we’re very pleased,” Suns General Manager Steve Kerr said. “San Antonio made the pick for us with the deal having been worked out just a couple of selections beforehand.”

The wheeling and dealing certainly paid off according to Griffin.

“Detroit called and said they’d have taken Dragic with the next pick had we not made the move,” Griffin said. “It’s really unbelievable that we were able to get this done because I know a lot of teams were interested.”

The Sunday before the draft, Dragic worked out for the Suns at the US Airways Center and told he was looking forward to the opportunity of a lifetime.

>> Exclusive: Video of Dragic's Suns workout

“This is going to be an unbelievable opportunity for me,” the young prospect said of playing in the NBA. “I hope I have the chance to play here in Phoenix. I think I can help a lot on the fast break and am always looking to find my teammates.”

The 22-year-old Dragic, who listed Steve Nash among his favorite players, has spent time professionally in both Slovenia and Spain, and in 2007-08 averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in Adriatic Play. Included among the contests was a 24-point performance which saw Dragic shoot 10-for-12 from the field against Zveda.

The left-handed shooter also competed at the 2007 European Championships in Madrid, Spain, as well as the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan.

“We agree he has a chance to someday be our starting point guard,” Kerr said. “It’s difficult adding a guy who can fill the role of point guard and we feel he has an excellent chance at doing that and are thrilled to have gotten him.”

Among the Slovenian’s strengths are his size, perimeter defense, quick first step and toughness.

“He’s unusual,” Griffin said. “He’s left-handed and very athletic. He attacks the rim with a sort of abandon and is polished with a good feel of the game. He could be erratic as a shooter but is mechanically sound and we feel we can work with him on the rest.”

Dragic is currently under contract with a team in the EuroLeague, but the Suns are already looking into a possible buyout in the near future.

“We looked into that before making the selection,” Kerr said of Dragic’s contract. “The first part of the plan was securing his rights and now we’ll move onto the next part in terms of seeing what’s possible. We feel confident we’ll be able to get him over here.”


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