CLEVELAND — Losing a step is an athlete’s worst fear. Not being as fast or explosive as you once were can be concerning and possibly signal the end of your tenure is approaching. Once you start losing your best skill (quickness, strength, shot), it’s difficult to compete, to remain in the NBA.
For Goran Dragic, now is the time to evolve his game to ensure a longer run.
The 10-year pro has best been known for his ability to attack the rim in a number of ways. While with Phoenix, Dragic was heralded for a tenacity that drew comparisons to Suns great Steve Nash. When the game was on the line, Dragic would find a way to get to the paint and score. Add the fact he was a talented passer and Dragic was a hot, young commodity for any team looking for a floor general to command the point.
Now 31-years-old, the current Miami Heat point guard is looking to find a flow from behind the 3-point arc to keep him near the top of the league’s best guards.
“I don’t drive like I used to. You’re getting older, you need to adapt your game,” Dragic told Amico Hoops prior to Tuesday’s loss to Cleveland. “I’m getting there, I’m shooting more. I feel comfortable with my shot. But of course, I want to read the situation, read what the defense is giving me. If the better chance is to drive I’m going to drive. If not, I’m going to try to make a basket.”
This season, Dragic’s shot is helping him hit 47 percent from the field as well as 41 percents on threes. Once known as a one-dimensional player on offense, he’s starting to put the pieces together. Averaging 19.2 points per game, along with 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds, Dragic is making plays all over the court in a time where the NBA is filled with unicorns at every position.
“I want to do whatever the team needs,” Dragic told Amico Hoops about his mentality this season. “I’m playing a little bit more off the ball this time but it’s working, so I’m happy.”
Something that has changed the way not only Dragic plays but laos other guards is the blitz strategy that Cleveland and a number of teams have incorporated into their defense.
“It’s a different situation because they take the ball out of your hands and you need to move a lot,” Dragic said.
Meanwhile, the Heat have found some recent success and sitting at 10-10 after winning five of their last seven games. After a rollercoaster of a start, they have cleaned up their play on both ends and are playing some good basketball against some tough teams. Their most notable win came a week ago, when they put an end to the Boston Celtics’ 16-game winning streak.
“We’re more consistent through the whole game,” Dragic said about the change in the team’s approach. “We don’t have those ups and downs and of course, our turnovers are lower.”
In a league where it is adapt or perish, Dragic is doing all of the right things to make sure he’s around for awhile.