Goran Dragic is both the best player on the Phoenix Suns and one of the best point guards in the entire NBA. HoopsHabit.com’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Dunlap covers the Suns and had the privilege of a one-on-one interview with Dragic today after practice. See what he had to say about his favorite players, who is most difficult to guard and his view on coach Lindsey Hunter.
Michael Dunlap: First off, thank you for this interview.
Goran Dragic: Of course, no problem.
MD: Who was your favorite player growing up?
GD: I mean, it was a lot of guys. Jason Kidd, Michael Jordan and Steve Nash. When I was a kid, I was very small so of course I watched a lot of the point guards.
MD: Nobody from home?
GD: For home (Slovenia), no not really because at that time we didn’t have any NBA players. Back in the day, Vlade Divac was really big. Also Predrag Danilovic.
MD: What about today? Who’s your favorite player today?
GD (laughing): My brother (Zoran Dragic)! Really, there’s a lot of great players in this league. I really like Chris Paul, he’s one of the best point guards in the league. Of course Steve (Nash). I would definitely pick a point guard.
MD: Who’s been the toughest guy for you to cover?
GD: I mean, it’s never easy. Everybody is tough. Especially on a back-to-back. Chris Paul, Steve, Russell Westbrook. With Steve, he really reads pick-and-rolls well. You know you’re going to get three or four screens in one play. Chris is very much the same and can break you down one-on-one. Of course Westbrook is one of the most dominant point guards in the league, especially strength-wise and his vertical.
MD: As far as the coach (Lindsey Hunter) is concerned, do you notice during games when he’s excited on the sidelines, barking at you, slamming the table and jumping around?
GD: When you play, you don’t see it because you’re focused on your man. During timeouts, we notice. I think it’s good, because sometimes players don’t pay attention and he needs them to listen.
MD: So you think it’s good motivation?
GD: Yeah, yeah. You know, we’re all professionals here, so even during meetings if he’s yelling at you, it’s good. He shows that he cares about you and wants you to get better. If he’s not yelling at you, then you’re in big trouble.
MD: That sounds like your European upbringing as opposed to an American upbringing.
GD: Maybe, maybe. I mean, in Europe, we had a lot of coaches who are slamming the boards and yelling at you, so I guess I’m used to it.
MD: So for the rest of the year, what do you personally want to get better at?
GD: It’s hard to get better right now, because there’s so many games. In the offseason, I’d like to get better with my right hand, shooting ability, passing, really everything.
MD: You’re playing great right now!
GD: I know, but still…you cannot just relax. Last game, if you played great, it doesn’t matter for next game because everyone will forget that game. You just have to work hard and try to develop your game and every season try to get one step better.
It’s that terrific attitude that has allowed Dragic to blossom into the player he is today. Since the All-Star break, Dragic ranks second in the NBA behind Paul with 9.5 assists per game, to go along with 15.6 points and 2.0 steals.
Thanks again to Goran Dragic and the Phoenix Suns for allowing me the opportunity to conduct this interview.