Updated Jul 20, 2012 - 9:32 am
Mistake with Goran Dragic works out well for Suns
So to speak.
"Many of us, I think, that had Goran not left he would have never had the opportunity to spread his wings and grow in the way he has," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said at a press conference Thursday to re-introduce the point guard to the Phoenix media.
Well, Lon, he technically didn't leave, you traded him (and a first round pick for 25 games of Aaron Brooks). That said, there may be some truth to the idea that Dragic would not be the player he is today -- the player the Suns need -- had it not been for the original mistake less than two years ago.
After all, the Dragic the Suns traded away was averaging a disappointing 7.4 points and 3.1 assists per game, and the one they brought back was scoring 18 points and sighing out 8.4 assists per night as a starter in Houston.
However, just as the move to get rid of him was met with questions, so is the decision to bring him back.
Can Dragic, a 26-year-old who has never led a team to the postseason, be the team's answer at the point guard position? Is Dragic, a lefty who has shown flashes but never consistency, ready to take over for one of the greatest point guards the game has ever seen on a team that could very well struggle on a nightly basis?
The verdict on Dragic's second stint in the Valley will not be handed down for at least a couple years; the important thing is the Suns were willing to admit their original mistake.
"There's an old expression that you have to be big enough to admit your mistakes, strong enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them," Babby said. "Bringing Goran back here, if that's what we're doing, I'm proud of that."
Indeed, the important thing is the Suns, for all the negative press they've received over the last couple years, took a big step in the right direction by taking their mistake head-on and signing the Slovenian to a four- year, $34 million contract.
The Suns were not too proud to do what was right, and as much as they deserved to be panned for the original trade, they should be praised for this move.
Because sure, Dragic returns with some question marks, but he also brings potential to be the team's long-term answer at a position where they've rarely had a question.
And he'll do that, provided no one expects him to be the man he's replacing. That shouldn't be an issue, as Dragic himself has no illusions of who he is or what he can do.
"I don't want to be like Steve Nash; he's one of the greatest point guards in the league," Dragic said. "I'm a different player; I play different basketball than him."
For the first time in a long time the Phoenix Suns have good players who have room to improve, and there's no reason to think Dragic has peaked. Not to say he'll be the next Steve Nash (though the parallels of the Suns trading him away only to bring him back later are there), but take a look at the two-time MVP's stats in year four and compare them to the same for Dragic.
Same age, same situation (second season with a new team), yet Dragic's numbers were significantly better across the board.
Spoiler alert: that Nash guy turned out to be pretty good.
Few could have seen that coming, and there might be even fewer who see greatness in Dragic's future.
It's OK to be skeptical, as the idea of the Suns being fortunate enough to benefit from a bad move is a tough one to buy into.
But they were.
"His confidence level is at its all-time high," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of what's different about his point guard. "I think that he feels he belongs now. I think that he feels like he can line up and play against anyone in the league."
Dragic will get that chance, as for the first time in his career the team he's on will be his. No Steve Nash to defer to, no thought that he's starting only because of injuries. He says he's not scared and that he wants to improve.
If he does, the phrase "All's well that ends well" would certainly apply.