|21 September 2013|
|Zoran Dragic is no longer just the other Dragic brother, stepping out of the shadows at EuroBasket 2013 to be one of the tournament's premier wingers |
By David Hein
Zoran Dragic was already a known commodity coming into EuroBasket 2013. Obviously there was being the younger brother of NBA point guard Goran Dragic and their striking resemblance - save for Zoran's blondish locks compared to Goran's brown hair.
Zoran also was known for his ability to drive to the lane - just like Goran and, just like Goran, also with his left hand.
Zoran then made himself a fan favorite with his dramatic bursts of emotion on the court.
But it's an improved outside game that has impressed many people in Slovenia's run to the fifth place game at EuroBasket 2013.
"He's developed his shot over the summer so he's shooting better. That's another thing that he's doing much, much better," said Slovenia forward Bostjan Nachbar about Dragic.
"His shot now is better. During the last two, three seasons, Zoran was only penetrating, running excellent on the fast break and playing hard defence. Now, maybe he is not the greatest shooter, but he is not bad either," said Slovenia coach Bozidar Maljkovic.
During his first six seasons with Slovan and Novo Mesto, Dragic never shot over 27% from three-point range in a year. Last season with Unicaja Malaga the Ljubljana native finally eclipsed that mark, hitting 30%. At EuroBasket 2013, Zoran has knocked down nine of 27 three-pointers for a 33% clip.
That improvement comes after Dragic stayed on at Malaga after the season ended to work on his shot for a month-and-a-half with Maljkovic's former assistant Paco Alonso.
"I just want to be an all-around player and have a shot, penetrate, rebound," said Dragic.
"I was just needing a little bit of confidence in my shot. I had a shot before but if everybody says you don't have it that gets in your head. This year, I just totally changed my shot and it really improved a lot."
|"He's a really great player. He's a team player. He's going to fight until the end," says Goran (right)about his younger brother Zoran (left)|
Dragic is not just hitting a higher percentage of his triples. He's doing everything he is known for at a very high level. He is driving past his defender to get easy layups to the tune of 11.1 points-a-game while handing out an assist-per-game.
Zoran is also proving to be a great rebounder - with a team second-best 5.2 boards-per-game.
Dragic is just an all-around player - and he's now coming close to becoming an all-round star.
"He's definitely developed. He's a great energy guy, one almost everyone would love to have because of the positivity, the aggression, the intensity that he brings to the team," said Uros Slokar, who watched Dragic play all season whilst plying his trade for Spanish rivals Gran Canaria.
"If you use him the right way he can be one of the most valuable players in your team, probably the best sixth man in the team."
Nachbar said Dragic's future is bright.
"I think he's the number one player in Europe who plays with the most energy. He never stops. It's unbelievable. He has that special sense for the ball. It's unbelievable," said the veteran forward.
"I think he has a bright future because he's a hard worker. I don't think he's a finished product as a player."
Zoran's brother Goran was also quick to sing his praises.
"He's a really great player. He's a team player. He's going to fight until the end. He demonstrated at EuroBasket that he can play and be one of the toughest players on the court," said Goran, who is three years older than Zoran.
The younger sibling said it's been a joy to take to the court with his brother at a second EuroBasket.
"It's great to play with my brother. That was my dream. We played two years ago in Lithuania, but this is different. It's unbelievable. We have a great bond when we play," said Zoran.
"My dream was always to play in the NBA because there were never brothers from Slovenia in the NBA. This has not happened. I will try to play in the Euroleague. This is the second best league in the world and I still have a lot of time. My goals are to play in the NBA for sure."
Krunoslav Simon is another player who has closely watched Zoran's development at EuroBasket 2013. The Croatian guard is Dragic's teammate at Malaga.
"He's playing great. I'm glad for him. He's my good friend. I hope he plays like this next year too," said Simon.