Zoran Dragic is having a heck of a year. Last summer, the Slovenian was on his way out of Unicaja after a disappointing first season in the ACB (5.2 points, 15 minutes per game). Despite he had another one guaranteed in his contract, his return seemed doubtful. After signing Ryan Toolson and Carlos Suárez, Unicaja even tried (with little success) to loan him to the very same team his brother Goran had played for in 2006 (UCAM Murcia).
Then the EuroBasket came.
The 24-year-old guard had an eye-opening performance in his home country teaming up with Goran. The Dragic bros were the two best players of an exciting Slovenian squad that finished the European championship in fifth position.
“The EuroBasket gave me a boost of confidence”, Zoran said to SpanishHoops. “But also the work I did on summer to become a more complete player. It helped me a lot”.
Zoran is now averaging 10.3 points in the ACB and a team best 14.4 points in the Euroleague Top 16 even though he plays just 22 minutes per game.
On Sunday he saved Unicaja from another upset against Estudiantes, the team with the second worst record in the league. The Slovenian guard scored several key baskets in the fourth period, including the game-winning free throw with 6 seconds remaining (84-85). Zoran finished with 14 points to go along with 6 offensive rebounds.
“We needed it”, he said. “We had lost three games in a row, so we needed a win before the Copa del Rey. We can’t approach this kind of games with low energy. It can’t happen again”.
Unicaja hosts a new edition of the Copa del Rey this weekend, a tournament they won in 2005. “Everybody in the team is excited. Hopefully we can make a good run”.
Zoran Dragic has really stepped up his game, just as his brother in the NBA. Goran, now 27, is leading the Phoenix Suns to a Playoff spot in the powerful Western Conference, something nobody could predict at the beginning of the regular season. The brave point guard is averaging 20.0 points and 6.1 assists per game. Insufficient to be named to the All-Star Game, though.
And that bothers his sibling too.
“We knew it was going to be tough because he is not Chinese. He is from Slovenia, a country of only 2 million people”, Zoran said to SpanishHoops. “He still has a chance to go to the All-Star because there are some injured players. We’ll see. Anyway, he is playing the best basketball of his career, so if he’s not called now, he will have time to be an All-Star in the future”.