The All-Star game is just around the corner. The best players in each Conference will square off to cap off the event filled weekend. However, the Western backcourt will be missing a marquee name: Kobe Bryant. Bryant was voted as a starter for the West despite playing only a few games. He said he wouldn’t play, and that was made certain by complications with his injured knee.
New Commissioner Adam Silver will get to pick the player to replace Bryant. Number one on his list ought to be Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic without question. Players like Anthony Davis and Demarcus a Cousins have strong cases, but I’m working off the idea of replacing one guard with another.
In short, Goran Dragic should replace Bryant because he was snubbed from the ASG in the first place.
Looking as his base states, Dragic is averaging 20 points, 6.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. He is currently one of three players to average 19+ points and 5+ assists per game while shooting at least 48% from the floor.
The other two are LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Who took the reserve spots in the West? Tony Parker and Damian Lillard. Both fine players, but they haven’t been playing as well as the Dragon. Lillard averages just .6 more points per game than Dragic and o.5 less assists. If you look at advanced stats, Dragic sits at a 22.3 Player Efficiency Rating, while Lillard trails at 18.9. Lillard also trails far behind Dragic in field goal percentage, shooting just over 41 percent. Dragic is also a far superior defender than Lillard.
Also, Drgaic has had far less to work with than Lillard. Lillard has an MVP candidate on the floor with him, as well as several other talented players that run that teams elite offense. Dragic shoulders the load of the Suns by himself on certain nights without Eric Bledsoe. That is something that has to be recognized.
The other reserve guard, Tony Parker, also has the help of a Hall of Fame player and a very entrenched and experienced elite group. Parker is putting up 18.1 points, 6.4 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor as well. He holds a PER of 20 and a True Shooting % of 57%, compared to Dragic’s 60%.
When one examines the stats and the context of them, it’s clear that Goran Dragic is having a phenomenal season and deserves a spot in the All-Star game. He’s been the driving force behind the Suns improbable playoff run, and his commitment and will to win is something to be admired. There’s one ASG spot left, and hopefully Silver picks the Dragon to fill it. No doubt he’s earned it.