Surprising Dragić gives Suns unexpected playoff hopes

Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:04pm EDT
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By Will Robinson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With his slight 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, Goran Dragić and his boyish facial hair are unassuming. But when he's on the court, the 27-year-old Slovenian is one of the NBA's shiftiest and most explosive players.

This season, with the Phoenix Suns battling for a Western Conference playoff spot late in an NBA season that many of the team's fans originally had low expectations for, Dragić has proved to be one of the league's premier, tenacious guards.

"Sometimes, he's so aggressive, and he does that early on, but he does that to get the defense drawn to him," said Suns guard Gerald Green. "And it makes it a lot easier for us to go out and there and be successful, go out there and make plays because he's got three or four guys watching him at all times."

In 2008, the San Antonio Spurs drafted Dragić 45th overall and traded him to Phoenix two days later.

Turning pro at 17, Dragić spent his pre-NBA career playing primarily in Slovenia, winning the country's league title with his hometown side Olimpija Ljubljana before leaving for the United States.

Dragić always had his trademark aggressiveness. But he needed to alter his game to compete stateside.

"When I was in Europe, I was not a jump-shooter, because it was so easy to get to the paint," he says. "When I came to the NBA, it's so much tougher to get to the basket. I had to develop a different style of game.

"You just have to adapt, like every job."   Continued...

Jan 22, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (right) controls the ball against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in the second half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports