Miami Heat: Goran Dragic is flourishing as the Heat’s sixth man

Following an injury-riddled 2018-19 NBA season, Miami Heat PG Goran Dragic is currently embracing his new role as the team’s sixth man.

Since being acquired by the Miami Heat in a blockbuster trade from the Phoenix Suns during the 2014-15 season, Goran Dragic has been a model of consistency for the Heat at the starting point guard position.  In fact, Goran was even named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team during the 2017-18 season,  averaging roughly 17 points per game, five assists, and four rebounds per in 75 starts for Miami.

However, a major knee injury in 2018 shortened the Dragon’s 2018-19 NBA campaign, a year in which the Heat missed out on the playoffs. The 2018-19 season would be the first year in which Goran Dragic would come off of the bench in a Miami Heat uniform.

Goran’s transition to a bench role last season was relatively successful. While participating in only 36 games (22 starts), Dragic recorded a respectable slash line of roughly 14 points per game, five assists per, and three rebounds a game on the season. However, Goran certainly experienced some struggles in terms of making a smooth transition to the bench, averaging a below-average field goal percentage of approximately 41% as well as 35% from three-point range.

Despite experiencing a fairly up-and-down 2018-19 season, Goran Dragic finally received an entire off-season to properly recover from knee surgery. Also, thankfully for the Heat, the Dallas Mavericks rejected a potential trade that would have sent Goran Dragic to the Mavericks in a three-way trade scenario surrounding the acquisition of Jimmy Butler. In addition and unlike Dion Waiters, the 33-year-old former All-Star accepted a completely new role as Miami’s Sixth Man prior to the start of what looks to be a promising 2019-20 NBA campaign.

Essentially, to the surprise of many Heat fans that includes myself, Goran Dragic has certainly impressed as the Sixth Man and main scoring option off of Miami’s deep bench. Goran’s contributions have helped guide the Miami Heat to a 7-3 record on the season, picking up statement victories against contending teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets, thus far.

While participating in 10 regular-season games, Goran has produced a sensational slash line of roughly 17 points, five assists, and three rebounds per game. In addition, Goran’s efficiency numbers have improved drastically, averaging a field goal percentage of 47% and 44% from the three-point arch as well.

If Goran Dragic can continue to perform efficiently off the bench, then he will certainly be considered for the Sixth Man of the Year award by the end of the 2020 NBA season. The Dragon’s prowess on the offensive end has provided the Miami Heat with a consistent scoring spark off the bench. In fact and in my opinion, due to Dragic accepting a bench role, the Heat’s team offense has skyrocketed as a whole (112PPG).

Plus, with Goran Dragic becoming the team’s primary backup point guard, it has allowed Justise Winslow to step into the primary ball-handling position for the first unit. It has also allowed undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn to flourish as the team’s starting two-guard. Both Nunn and Dragic are each averaging roughly 17 points per contest, providing offense that wasn’t really accounted for heading into this year.

Quite frankly, with only one year remaining on Goran’s current contract, the native of Slovenia is playing lights out in a contract year. If Goran continues to thrive in a bench role throughout the course of the 2020 season, then Pat Riley should certainly consider a potential short term contract extension for the veteran PG.

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Moreover, Goran Dragic is seemingly a perfect fit as the Miami Heat’s sixth man, and will more than likely finish the season in the Top 5 of the award race.