Bulls: Goran Dragic clearly has a lot left in the tank

Goran Dragic, Chicago Bulls, EuroBasket 2022 (Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic, Chicago Bulls, EuroBasket 2022 (Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Bulls inked Andre Drummond to a deal this summer, it was quite easy to envision his fit with the team moving forward. However, things didn’t seem to go quite so smoothly when the Bulls brought their second new free agent — Goran Dragic — on board for the 2022-23 season.

In need of serious rim protection, versatility on the wing, and a lights-out three-point shooter, it was quick and easy to dismiss this as a surprisingly rare blunder by the front office. In fact, I even went so far as to assign an ‘F’ grade to the decision.

Aside from a few impressive playoff performances (at least, on the offensive side of the ball), Dragic by all accounts suffered immensely and posted the worst season in a very respectable 14-year career.

That being said, my knee-jerk reactions won’t ultimately sway things one way or another for the Chicago Bulls this season, only Dragic himself can do that. That’s why EuroBasket 2022 has been such a crucial trial for Dragic, as he looks to prove he can still perform at a high level on one of the most competitive stages in the world.

Believe it or not, so far things are going… surprisingly very well?

Reigning EuroBasket MVP Goran Dragic has given Chicago Bulls fans much to look forward to as he defends the tournament title for Slovenia.

Through four games with Slovenia, Dragic has helped his team achieve a 3-1 record and crushed elite competition including Dennis Schroeder, Franz Wagner, and Daniels Theis from Germany and Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valunciunas from Lithuania.

In the three games Dragic has logged significant minutes, he’s averaged an impressive 19 points and 4 assists on 53.5% shooting from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. After winning the EuroBasket MVP in 2017, expectations have been high for Dragic to continue pushing the boundaries for Slovenian basketball even as he nears the twilight of his career.

It’s largely due to Dragic’s presence that Slovenia has risen up the international ranks. Luka Doncic may be holding the reigns now, but it’s Dragic that helped propel this team to the EuroBasket title in 2017 and a fourth-place finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In fact, things have been far from a one-man show offensively here even in 2022, as Doncic had averaged just 16.7 points per game on 46.5% shooting in his first three games before a massive 36-point explosion against Germany in the latest contest. We have no delusions about who Slovenia’s star is here, but it’s still very reassuring to see Goran hold his own.

Playing this well alongside Luka proves that Dragic doesn’t have to be “the man” to contribute at a high level. This bodes extremely well for the Bulls, who will need Dragic to step up into a complementary role early on with Lonzo Ball’s availability in jeopardy.

Despite his age, I may end up eating my words if the 36-year-old Dragic ends up being a good veteran signing after all. If that ends up being the case, I don’t loathe the thought of being wrong when it’s all said and done. If Dragic is what helps put the Bulls over the top, it won’t be so difficult rooting for him when the wins start piling up.

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