There's not much mystery to the Phoenix Suns' player of the week this time. Here's a look at how well Goran Dragic has played over the last five games. Will it continue?

The Player of the Week

Goran Dragic aka "Dragon Ball G"

Weekly Stat Averages:

Points: 22.2 FG%: .521 3pt% .389 Assists: 10.0 Rebounds: 3.8

Goran Dragic had an absolutely phenomenal week. So much so, that nobody else really stood a chance of being named the player of the week this time around. Other players had very good games at times as well, but nobody played with the kind of consistency that Dragic showed over the past five games...not even close.

Dragic's stat line was tremendous this week. Looking at his scoring alone, 23,14, 31,19, and 24 points, respectively, would likely be reason enough to crown him. However, he also scored at a very efficient clip, shooting over 50% from the filed overall, and was also very effective at getting to the rim and also drawing the foul...shooting 32 free throws in all over the past week.

Still, this doesn't yet begin to describe the true impact he made on the team. In addition to his scoring, he averaged 10 assists per game over the past week...Doing a phenomenal job of orchestrating the Suns offense as a whole. In addition, he was consistently chasing down loose balls, hustling back on defense, and playing every possession with maximum energy.

This may have been Dragic's most impressive stretch of games that I've ever seen him play. He's had plenty of great games before, but he strung together an entire week's worth this time, and was impressive in each one of them.

In the absence of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic stepped up his game in a big way, and completely took over the role as the Alpha Dog of the team. Dragic not only took over as the sole facilitator, but also the aggressor and the closer. In fact, the return of Bledsoe while seemingly a bonus in Utah, may have been one of the reasons for the Suns undoing last night in Phoenix...as it may take a couple of games for the Suns to re-establish their continuity together.

Before Eric Bledsoe went down with his shin injury, there was little doubt that there was a new sheriff in town, and that the Dragon would assume the role of second fiddle in Phoenix. After all, Bledsoe is still the leading scorer on the team in points per game (19.6), as well as steals (1.73), and is the best rebounding guard as well (4.5). On the other hand, Dragic has a higher assist average (7.6), and a slightly lower turnover rate (2.57).

But things could certainly change. this is still a very young season and the team is still trying to figure things out, including their respective roles.

It will be interesting to see if the dynamic changes once again with Bledsoe back in the line-up. Will he quickly reassert himself as the Suns' leading man, or will Dragic continue his way of playing without relinquishing his role. Time will tell, but Bledsoe will have to step up big time in order to best the performance that the Dragon has put on over the past week.

Poll
Will Goran Dragic continue to be the driving force of the Suns even with Eric Bledsoe back in the line-up?

  257 votes | Results

PHOENIX – If this were in any of two New York City boroughs, this would’ve been panic time. The Phoenix Suns’ 112-104 home loss reeked of poor effort and a nonchalant approach to facing...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
PHOENIX — Phoenix didn’t fair well in its first three back-to-back games this season. And in a growing trend, the Suns fell 112-104 on Saturday night in U.S. Airways Center in their...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Basketball, played on the same court, but with football rules becomes a dangerous little game I like to call Hard Court Rugby. This is what happened...

Some games, it is clear that the ball is slick, and teams struggle to handle the ball. Lots of turnovers and sloppy basketball is the result. Then there are games where the ball is constantly on the ground and the teams pile up for a Rugby Scrum like a scene from The Three Stooges.

A lot of that happened this game with a punctuation on Alec Burks shoulder tackle of rookie Archie Goodwin.

Right before the half Burks caught the ball and tried a desperation heave at the buzzer from half court, like you know, in every other NBA game. Only this time he had the clever idea to shoulder tackle Goodwin then half heartily fling the ball at the rim. Tyrone Corbin earned a Technical Foul and Burks earned a stooge award for the night.

Rugby Match.

There is a fine line between confident while exceeding expectations and big timing the dregs of the league, like the Utah Jazz (3-15), which is precisely what the Phoenix Suns (9-8) did tonight. Sometimes it is tougher to get up for the lesser teams, but when you are the overachiever of the year there is no room for that.

In a home-and-home series with the Jazz the Suns took the first one, then the Jazz made a statement in the return match.

For the most part the game was dead even. When you look at the box-score it tells a very similar story. Each team was about identical in most categories from rebounding (39-35, Utah), to made field goals (39-37, Utah), to three's (12-9, Phoenix), and to total turnovers (8-12, Phoenix) which made the Jazz dominance in the second half perplexing to those that feed off box-score dumpster diving.

Dig a little deeper and the two numbers that matter the most ended up being second chance points, 25-13 Utah, and because of that; the final score 112-104, Utah.

It became a rugby match in the paint with Derrick Favors (14 points 8 rebounds), Enes Kanter (8 points 4 rebounds), and Jeremy Evans (12 points 4 rebounds) all making this game ugly inside.

The Suns were fueled by Goran Dragic monster first half (14 points 8 assists), but sputtered to the finish line as he finished with 24 points (11-13 free-throws) and 9 assists total. The team looked disjointed in the second half with a lack of effort, love of the three, and defensive miscues.

Dragic was the lone bright spot as the rest of the team managed only 8 total assists as a team and 12 free-throw attempts.

For the Jazz they got a career night from their rookie Trey Burke as he stepped up with 17 second half points (3-5 threes) on his way to a personal best 20 points.

The Jazz scored their season high in points (previous high 111 against New Orleans) and were 00.1% off their season high in field goal percentage, same game. This loss drops the Suns to 9-8 and was another wake-up call for them in terms of getting up for every opponent. They did not have the same energy that has become a staple of theirs this season tonight. Have to have that when you do not have elite level talent.

Can the Suns maintain this momentum into a three game winning streak tonight? Here are the details...

There are two occasions where the Phoenix Suns (9-7) must look at their calendars and smile, that is when they are playing either the Utah Jazz (2-15) (or the Portland Trail Blazers). This season they are a combined 4-1 against those two teams making up for 31.2% of the schedule early on.

In fact, both of those teams have had games come down to the final buzzer with game-winners. Crazy stuff.

This season the Suns (0-3) and Jazz (1-4) have not been particularly effective on the second game on a back-to-back. The Suns have lost all their games by a margin of -8.3 and the Jazz -11.8, but they won an overtime game against the Bulls by six points along the way. The Suns dropped both games of their home-and-home with the Kings this season and are looking to rectify that against the Jazz tonight by winning both.

On a back-to-back like this teams are tired, they settle for easier looks, and can come out lacking energy. That happens to everyone including the Suns. Settling for jumpers can hurt a team, but the Suns use them as a launching pad.

The Jazz are a Top 10 team defending the three-point line chasing opponents off of it, because of that they give up a lot of free-throws and looks inside, but they do a good job defending the three ball.

Against the Trail Blazers, a Top 3 defender of the three-point line, the Suns lite them up for 30 points behind the arc. They caught fire and changed the momentum of the game with the long ball. The Jazz defend the three well, but the Suns are a very opportunistic shooting team and could catch fire from there at any time with Green (11-35), Frye (12-28), Goran Dragic (6-15), and the team (37-110) in the past four games.

Look for a lot of jumpers and tired legs with the quick turnaround and flight back for both teams.

(Recent) History Lesson

87-84, Suns Win

112-101, Suns Win

In the second game of the season both Gordon Hayward and Eric Bledsoe hit go-ahead shots for their teams, but Bledsoe was the one with the ball in his hands last. That game provided an exciting finish for the shorthanded Jazz against the Suns. With this being a home-and-home the Jazz have an opportunity to get some revenge after they were dispatched rather easily last night.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)

Suns: 97.4 PPG (8 wins)

Jazz: 95.4 PPG (4 wins)

Of the twelve games, seven have been decided by single-digits, and the with the familiarity, these teams normally play close games. The talent has changed over the years, but with Coach Hornacek on board and the game-winner by Bledsoe earlier this year the stakes are always high with these two teams.

Head-to-Head (This Season)

Gordon Hayward: 14.5 PPG 8.5 RPG 7.0 APG 37.0 FG% (2 games)

Eric Bledsoe: 18.5 PPG 5.5 RPG 2.5 SPG 42.3 FG% (2 games)

These two will spend very little time guarding one another outside of switches on pick-and-rolls, but they have done damage against each other in different ways. Hayward has been able to do a little bit of everything, but is struggling to score in an efficient manner against the Suns athletic wings. Bledsoe is causing havoc, creating turnovers, and overturning Hayward game-winners. Should be fun.

(Again, both players do not have contracts heading into restricted free-agency this summer)

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. Trey Burke

SG - Gerald Green v. Gordon Hayward

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Richard Jefferson

PF - Channing Frye v. Marvin Williams

C - Miles Plumlee v. Derrick Favors

Potential Suns Inactives: Alex Len (Left Ankle, Game-to-Game) and Emeka Okafor (Neck, Out Indefinitely)

Potential Jazz Inactives: Andris Biedrins (Left Ankle, Out)

Key Match-Up

Marvin Williams vs.The Morrii

Whether Williams is starting (like last night) or coming off the bench he will have to match the versatility of the Morris Twins at the three and the four throughout the night. In a sense Williams is the Jazz version of the Morris Twins with his ability to stretch the floor as a four and athleticism as a three on the perimeter.

Markieff will put pressure on him inside with his new-found aggressiveness and Marcus can do the same with the way he has been stretching the floor as of late. If the Morrii can maintain their efficiency tonight they should win this individual battle.

Interesting Stat: 24.0

That is the average age of the Jazz starters, which is sort of like looking through the window at what Suns fans were looking for this year from their team. Instead of forcing Archie Goodwin and Alex Len into the starting line-up the team has their best middle aged veterans out there (27.0 average age) leading to a surprising start.

Meaningless Stat: 2-15

The Jazz are 2-15, but six of their losses were by 10 points or less and they are getting their team together on the court for the first time all season. It is a little misleading, but they are still neck-and-neck with Milwaukee for the Most Likely To Loss To A D-League team this year.

Page 819 of 1954

819

Web Links

Sponsored Ads