Best Turnaround Story (2010)

Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic

Two seasons ago, Goran Dragic, who had been a star in Europe, was the butt of jokes in this town. He was also getting his butt kicked by former Suns Coach Terry Porter for sloppy, tentative play during the rare times he appeared in games. It seemed as though drafting the young Slovenian to be a solid backup to Steve Nash was a pipe dream, one of the stupidest moves Suns management ever had made. Then came last season, when Dragic came of age under Porter's replacement, Alvin Gentry. To say that Dragic turned in phenomenal performances would be an understatement. He had very few bad games all season, and he was among the best players in the league in a few. Particularly in the playoffs. In the Suns' 115-106 series-tying, game 4 victory over the Lakers in last year's finals, Dragic overpowered L.A., as his mentor, Nash, sat for almost nine minutes of the fourth period. Dragic played 18 minutes overall and had eight points, four rebounds, and eight assists — the same assists total that Nash had in 30 minutes. The play of the game came when the 24-year-old went past Derek Fisher and 6-foot-11 Lamar Odom for a cool, seemingly effortless lay-up. The home crowd went crazy as Fisher looked befuddled about where the hell the speedy guy he was supposed to be guarding had vanished to. It was a wonderful sight for Suns fans and a superhero moment for Dragic. But he'd turned in an even more spectacular fourth quarter in the semifinals last year against the San Antonio Spurs. In game 3 in the Alamo City, Dragic scored 23 of his 26 points in the fourth — hitting nine of 11 shots and four three-pointers. Nash sat out the entire period, and the Suns won that game 110-96 before eventually sweeping the hated Spurs in the series. Dragic not only established himself as a solid backup to the aging two-time MVP, but proved he's the team's point guard of the future and a budding NBA superstar. What a difference a year made.


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