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The Dragon: 30 Years of Heat

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Goran Dragic comes in at number 18 on the all-time countdown.

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

18. Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic is a left-handed point guard from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Born on May 6th, 1986, the 31-year-old is Miami’s current starter at the one. He was initially selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs had traded for the selection with the Toronto Raptors, for Giorgos Printezis, and two days later, they sent him to the Phoenix Suns for Malik Hairston, a cash payout, and another second round pick (DeJuan Blair).

Dragic spent his first two NBA seasons with the Suns (135 games), putting up 6.5 points and 2.6 assists in 16.1 minutes per game. After 48 more games with the club in 2010-11 (7.4 points, 3.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds), Phoenix traded him to the Houston Rockets with a first round pick (Nikola Mirotic) for Aaron Brooks.

Dragic closed out that season playing in 22 contests for Houston. In 2011-12, he appeared in all 66 games for the Rockets, improving his offensive output to 11.7 points, 5.3 helpers, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. During the 2012 offseason, he signed back with the Suns again through free agency for three years and $22.5 million.

Dragic played 205 regular season games in his second stint with the Suns, (17.1 points, 5.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals), improving enough to earn 2014 All-NBA Third Team honors and the 2014 Most Improved Player award.

On February 19th, 2015, the Goran Dragic era opened in Miami. He was part of a three-team trade. According to basketball-reference.com:

As part of a 3-team trade, traded by the Phoenix Suns with Zoran Dragic to the Miami Heat; the Miami Heat traded Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Shawne Williams to the New Orleans Pelicans; the Miami Heat traded Danny Granger, a 2017 1st round draft pick and a 2021 1st round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns; and the New Orleans Pelicans traded John Salmons to the Phoenix Suns. (2017 1st-round pick is top-7 protected)

Through the last 26 games of the 2014-15 campaign with the Heat, Dragic shot .502 from the field and .329 from outside, putting up 16.6 points, 5.3 assists, 3.4 boards, and 1.1 steals per game. He had two double-doubles and finished in double figures 23 times. The Heat put up a 12-14 record when he played, and 26-30 when he didn’t. Four days after the trade, he scored 23 points on nine-of-14 shooting with 10 assists in a 119-108 win against the Philadelphia 76ers. On March 16th, in a 106-92 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he scored 20 points with nine helpers, five assists, and a pair of steals in 40 minutes. His best of the season for the Heat was in a 105-100 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on April 7th. He led Miami with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting, with five assists, four rebounds, and two steals in 35 minutes.

In 2015-16, Dragic appeared in 72 games for the Heat, starting in each of them. He led the Heat with 5.8 assists, ranked fourth with 14.1 points, and collected 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, playing a team-second 32.8 minutes per game. Miami went 4-6 when he sat, and 44-28 when he played.

On February 20th, in a 114-94 victory over the Washington Wizards, Dragic scored 24 points with eight assists in 30 minutes. In a 118-96 win against the Chicago Bulls on March 11th, he finished with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, with nine assists and three rebounds. Eight days later, he put up a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists, adding four rebounds on a seven-of-12 night. It was one of five double-doubles of the season for Dragic.

At 48-34, Miami surprised everyone and earned a three-seed in the playoffs. The Heat played 14 games, defeating the Charlotte Hornets and losing to the Toronto Raptors. Dragic was at his best in Miami’s game six, 103-91 win. He led Miami with 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting, with seven rebounds and four assists.

Dragic averaged over 20 points per game for the second time in his career in 2016-17 for Miami, with a career-high-tying 20.3 points, 5.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. He also shot a career-second-best .405 from outside (he shot .408 in 2013-14). He appeared in 73 games for the Heat, playing 33.7 minutes per game.

On November 28th, in a 112-104 loss to the Boston Celtics, Dragic had his most productive game as a member of the Heat, with 27 points and 17 assists for one of six double-doubles that season. Miami went 40-33 with Dragic in the lineup, and just 1-8 when he didn’t play. On February 6th, in the midst of Miami’s 13-game winning streak, the Heat defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 115-113. Dragic finished with 33 points and nine assists. He shot 13-of-17 overall and a blistering seven-of-nine from deep. He made five-of-nine shots from outside on March 15th, in a 120-112 win against the New Orleans Pelicans, scoring 33 points on 11-for-18 overall shooting, along with five rebounds and a pair of helpers.

Entering the 2017-18 season, Dragic will be playing in the third year of a five-year, $86 million deal. He has a player-option in 2019-2020, in which he’s scheduled to make $19,217,900.

Stat Line: 171 games, 33.5 minutes, .479 field goals, .362 three-pointers, .777 free throws, 17.2 points, 5.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 17.9 PER, 15.0 Win Shares.

GameScore: 2347.7