|Zoran Dragic has returned to Europe following a season in the NBA with a notably improved offensive game|
By David Hein
The small forward used to be known as a defensive stopper with an up-and-down offensive arsenal. But Dragic returned to Europe from an NBA season with the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns with a more refined game at the offensive end.
"I was talking to these NBA superstars about what I need to do and how to attack the defender and so many other things," said Dragic, who is averaging 14 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.8 steals for Slovenia in the Group Phase in Zagreb.
"I take a lot of experience from my time in the NBA. It was something new for me and I am very happy that I
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After one season with the Heat and Phoenix in which his playing time was somewhat limited, Dragic will be coming back to the European game after EuroBasket 2015 to play for Russian side Khimki Moscow Region.
"It will be the same like it was when I played at Unicaja Malaga (in 2013-14)," Dragic said.
"I already know Euroleague basketball, and it will be fun, especially with a young and talented Khimki team. We have high standards in the Euroleague and VTB League."
But the 26-year-old hopes his NBA career is not limited to one season.
"I will never say no to the NBA, so I will come back hopefully some day."
Dragic's team-mates have noticed the results of the work on offence he did while in the U.S.
"He's improved on his shooting. He was always a special guys with his energy since he started to play basketball, but now he is dangerous outside of the paint. He can shoot well. He's even more dangerous for other players," Slovenian guard Jaka Klobucar said.
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"He worked a lot on his offensive game, but we remember him more in Europe as a defender. That was his big ticket," said Slovenian veteran big man Uros Slokar, who is playing his fourth major international tournament alongside Dragic.
"Now he's more concentrated on offence because the NBA pushes the player to score more because of statistics. If he can connect the defence and offence, I think he'll be really good. But right now he still cannot decide - if he should play great defence or great offence."
Slokar said Dragic is crucial to Slovenia's chances at EuroBasket 2015.
"He's our main player, there's no denying that. Everything is concentrated around him. And I don't mean just the offence, but also the opponents' defence," Slokar said.
"We know what he can do. He worked a lot on his shot. He became a really good shooter. If you saw him five years ago, you would say this guy could never shoot. But now he's really really improved his shot."
When asked about his balance between offence and defence, Dragic said: "I try to do it both ways. It's very tough, but I try to play tough defence and of course offence. I'm trying to be an all-round player."
The offensive side of his game is definitely more present than in the past.