Best Basketball Player (2013)

Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

Thank God for Goran Dragic! He was the only bright spot in the Phoenix Suns' dismal lineup last season. He continued to do it all: score, pass, rebound. The Suns didn't win many games — 25 of 82, to be exact — but the ones they did win were mostly because of the lightning-fast Serbian. The Suns are making moves to improve their on-court fortunes, with the addition of promising rookie Alex Len in the 2013 NBA draft. In a year or so, he should become Dragic's principal go-to guy under the basket. Even on last year's dismal squad, Dragic averaged 15 points and seven assists a game. He tutored under one of the game's great point guards, Steve Nash, and it shows. He's a pass-first player who can dunk and rebound. Dragic had three boards a game in the latter category, great for among the shortest players on the team. With better talent around him, he could return to the prowess he showed in game three of the 2010 Western Conference Finals, when he scored 23 of his 26 points in the final period to give the Suns a 110-96 come-from-behind win over San Antonio. It was billed as one of the greatest fourth-quarter performances in playoff history. Dragic's scoring blast included five of five three-pointers. Dragic's a seasoned veteran at only 27. He started his professional career in Slovenia at 17, spending five years playing in Europe before entering the 2008 NBA draft and winding up with Phoenix. It remains to be seen whether he will be as good as his mentor, Nash. But it was at the same juncture in his NBA career that Nash began to break out in points and assists with the Dallas Mavericks. He and Len are the future of Phoenix's oldest professional-sports franchise — how that future plays out under economically cautions Suns management remains to be seen.


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