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Don’t Hold Your Breath

On A Goran Dragic Trade

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Image by Keith Allison and used under a Creative Commons license.
The Dragon Has Been As Good, Or Perhaps Even Better, Than Steve Kerr Prophesied He’d Be After The 2008 Draft, And The Organization WIll Not Likely Get Enough For Him

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By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

Jan. 13, 2015 — After a disappointing start to the season, the Phoenix Suns have started to experience the level of success that fans expected after a surprise season last year. That’s put the Suns in a familiar position, near the bottom of the playoff picture in the Pacific Division, and is also raising some uncomfortable questions.

Phoenix is 9-4 in its last 13 games and 22-18 overall as of Monday. That’s good for eighth place in the West and the last playoff spot. There’s a lot of games left in the season and the streaky (for better and for worse) Suns could rise or fall dramatically before season’s end, but this current position, I think, characterizes basically what this team is, a young, energetic squad that lacks the discipline and major star to contend with the higher-ranked teams in the conference.

The main question raised by this predicament is “should Phoenix trade Goran Dragic?” After all, the Suns have a crowded backcourt, and each member has struggled at times this season finding his unique niche.

Early on, Dragic struggled more than the others. Point guard Eric Bledsoe seemed to have solidified his position as the main point guard, and Isaiah Thomas was displaying his Sixth Man of the Year potential coming off the bench. Dragic, on the other hand, seemed to have some trouble accepting his role as the shooting guard after playing the point for so many years.

That’s not to say Dragic didn’t adjust to the role eventually. He now leads the team in points per game, averaging over 16.5 points in each contest. But, despite that success, it’s obvious that Dragic prefers to play the point, which he won’t be doing regularly in Phoenix for the foreseeable future.

Goran Dragic Career Stats

Make no mistake, Bledsoe is the starting point guard. After shelling out $70 million over five years in the offseason, no one in Phoenix is going to supplant him. Plus, he’s actually showing that he’s worthy of the role this year by producing and staying healthy (fingers crossed). His points per game average rivals Dragic and he’s becoming a better distributor with every game. Phoenix is still 21st in the league in assists per game, and Bledsoe deserves a fair share of the blame for that, but, he is averaging six assists per game and has put up double digit assists in two of the past five games.

Eric Bledsoe Career Stats

So, despite the recent success Phoenix has had, should the team think about trading Dragic?

By keeping him around, I think the team is easily capable of securing an eighth seed in the playoffs. But, the upside isn’t much better. They could go on a streak and pick up a sixth or even a fifth seed, but I don’t think anyone believes this team can compete for a championship this year with this roster.

With that outlook, trading Dragic seems logical, right?

Well, kind of.

On most teams, the argument I just put forward would lead to a trade. Middling teams trade good, but not great starters for young prospects or draft picks and hope said assets turn into something down the line.

That being said, I don’t think the Suns should trade the Dragon. Because, the Suns are not most teams. Think about it, generally trading Dragic to a team like Houston (what goes around comes around) for draft picks that could turn into a potential star seems like a good idea, especially for a team like Phoenix without a clear-cut star player that championship teams in today’s day and age need.

But, Phoenix could add that star player in the next few seasons without doing anything. That’s because Bledsoe has shown flashes of becoming that player this season. If he continues developing at this level, he could be averaging 20 or more points and 8 to 10 assists per game in the next few seasons.

Add that Bledsoe to Dragic, the continually improving Morris twins and the finally starting to arrive Alex Len and this team could creep closer to the top of the the Western Conference.

Normally, I would say sell high on a player like Dragic, but the Suns traded him once before and ended up regretting it. I say, stick it out with this crew. They’re still inexperienced, young and undisciplined, but in a few years that won’t be the case.

The young players on the roster are showing real signs of improvement and keeping a respected, hard working veteran like Dragic around will only aid in that development.

Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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