New Chicago Bulls point guard Goran Dragic is quite the basketball legend on an international scale. He just became the all-time leading scorer for his native Slovenia during FIBA EuroBasket 2022 play this summer.
He’s also Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic’s idol.
The teammates on the Slovenian national team are trying to defend Slovenia’s title from 2017 – the last time the event was held.
Dragic is currently the second-leading scorer on the team right behind Doncic. Ahead of their quarter-final matchup with Poland on September 14, Dragic had nothing but effusive praise for his young comrade.
Goran Dragic Praises Luka Doncic
“I think he is the best player in the world,” Dragic said of Doncic (h/t BasketNews.com).
Hardly a hot take, Dragic has had as good of a vantage point as anyone outside of Dallas to his protege’s ascension into the upper echelon of the NBA. He’s already been an All-NBA selection and All-Star three times apiece and has been in the postseason each of the past three seasons.
Even if you believe he is just outside of that group at the very top, Doncic is far from finished as Dragic points out.
“He is only 23 years old and he is playing like a veteran. He could score even 40 points in every game,” Dragic said continuing later, I think he could be [the best player in history]. He is still very young, but if he stays healthy and plays a long more time I think that by the end of his career he could be the best ever”.
Dragic, 36, is close with Doncic so it’s not a surprise to hear him heap praise on the Mavs star.
That relationship does not take anything away from the validity of his argument, though, especially as Dragic rattles off the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Doncic’s skill set.
“He plays the game at his rhythm, he is very big, he can shoot, he can pass, he can rebound. I don’t know what else we can say about Luka, he is like… an astronaut.”
Mavs Missed Out on Dragic
Dragic, who is set to retire from international play, said he wishes he could play with Doncic more since this is just their second EuroBasket together. That revelation potentially highlights how much of a missed opportunity it was for Doncic’s Mavs to not offer Dragic a real role.
Dallas did not want to play him much with head coach Jason Kidd feeling as though the point guard had nothing left in the tank.
Dragic is proving that to be a poor assessment.
In addition to 14.5 points, Dragic is averaging 3.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 50% from the floor and 37.5% from three-point range. He’s also played over 26 minutes per contest showing just how much he has left to give.
He had to convince the Bulls to even sign off on his return to the international stage. Surely there was some initial second-guessing after a minor knee injury a few games ago.
But he has averaged 15.7 points over their last four contents and starting the last three, all wins.
The 14-year NBA veteran did admit that the grind of the tournament is hard on the body, especially as he gets older. But he also knows that there is something greater at stake in the end.
“When you are winning, it feels like the best decision. But when you go back to your room and everything hurts, your whole body hurts, sometimes I am thinking ‘oh my god, why do I have to go through this again’,” Dragic admitted. But it’s worth it, it’s worth it. I am enjoying this. I feel like we have the best team, we have the best teammates, our chemistry is at the highest level and everyone is enjoying success.”
Dragic’s Honesty Needed
Dragic has been very outspoken in his career and that has continued this past season as he got into some hot water over comments about not wanting to play for the Toronto Raptors. In the end, he landed with the Brooklyn Nets who had as much dysfunction as any team.
He ripped their chemistry and focus on his way out saying that there was too much focus on individuals over the team.
That kind of honesty could be an underlying benefit for a team that far too often last season seemed to fold in the tough going down the stretch. So, while Dragic will help run the offense and spread the floor some, his greatest impact could be in holding his new teammates accountable.