The NBA named Phoenix Suns point guard Goran Dragic it’s Most Improved Player Wednesday morning.
The Suns had the most surprising season of any team in the league, challenging for a playoff spot right up to the final few nights of the season.
Dragic’s improvement on last season is startling. He turned in a solid if unspectacular 2013 season, leading the Suns through a tough year but never troubling the established caste of top-tier point guards. His season averages of 14.7 points per game and .443 shooting average were simply average.
2014 was much different. Dragic stepped up his offensive game, scoring 20.3 points per game while also improving his accuracy not just from the field but notably from behind the three-point line. Dragic shot .505 percent from the field, a six percent rise, topped by his nine percent improvement from behind the arc, shooting .408 from deep compared to .319 in 2013.
Add to that his sneaky-good defensive play, utilizing great lateral quickness with his quick hands to force turnovers and generally make life tough for his opposite number.
Dragic combined with Eric Bledsoe to create one of the most dynamic backcourt pairs in the league. What Dragic provided in calm, methodical and precise offense, Bledsoe equalled in strength, speed and overpowering physicality.
The Suns were expected to be bad. Not just bad, but wretched, picking up one of the top four draft spots this summer.
Instead, they installed Jeff Hornacek in his first head coaching gig. Hornacek pulled his team of cast-offs, draft-busts and misfits and gave them new life. Markieff Morris is a contender for Sixth Man of the Year and Hornacek finished second in Coach of the Year voting.
Instead, Dragic scooped the Most Improved award and both he and his backcourt running mate Bledsoe found themselves All-Star snubs. A far cry from their season prognosis.