In addition to Precious Achiuwa, the Toronto Raptors have received Goran Dragic as part of the sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat for Kyle Lowry.
The Dragon x The Raptors- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 6, 2021
Welcome to the squad, @Goran_Dragic!#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/9OObmOPQMd
While there has been some chatter of Dragic possibly being rerouted to another team - the Dallas Mavericks reportedly have interest in him, which doesn't come as a huge surprise given their need for another ball handler and his ties to Luka Doncic - it sounds like the Raptors aren't actively looking to move him.
"We entertained [a trade], and we were up front with Goran and his representatives," said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster. "So I think it's very transparent. But we liked him from the start. Obviously if we got an offer that was too good to refuse, we'd listen, but ultimately we want Goran here."
MORE: Our favourite Lowry memories as a Raptor
A 13-year veteran with one All-Star selection to his name, Dragic is someone I mentioned as a potential target for the Raptors last offseason. He doesn't fit the development timeline of Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes and Achiuwa, but he brings some much-needed playmaking to a Raptors team that has struggled to score consistently in the halfcourt since Kawhi Leonard's departure. (According to Cleaning the Glass, the Raptors ranked 15th in halfcourt efficiency in 2019-20 and slipped to 20th in 2020-21. Yeah ... there's some work to be done).
Much like Lowry, Dragic is at his best when he's operating out of the pick-and-roll. His shooting off the dribble from 3-point range has wavered over the last few seasons, but he's a threat to score at all three levels with the ball in his hands.
Since 2013-14, Dragic has drained a respectable 35.6 percent of his 3-point pull-up attempts.
He's been more reliable inside the arc, knocking down 41.2 percent of his 2-point pull-up attempts on more than double the volume during that span.
Dragic isn't a big-time athlete, but he's a crafty finisher around the basket, one who can score from floater range.
Dragic will share the court with other creators in Toronto - Siakam led the Raptors in usage last season, followed closely by VanVleet and Trent Jr. - but he's both capable and comfortable playing off-ball as a spot-up shooter. He has plenty of experience playing alongside other ball handlers, having started his career on the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns and played next to the likes of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Jimmy Butler and Lowry in the years since.
Per NBA.com, more than a quarter of Dragic's shot attempts were catch-and-shoot 3s last season, and he converted them at a 40.4 percent clip. That was up from 35.4 percent the season prior, but he's long hovered around the 40 percent mark as a standstill shooter from deep.
Last but not least, Dragic likes to push the pace. Not quite to the same extent as Lowry, but he led the Heat in transition scoring three times over the last six seasons.
Not only can he push the pace himself...
...but Dragic can fill the lane as a cutter or shooter.
That bodes well for his fit on a Raptors team that lives in the open court.
Offensively, Dragic should be able to fill in some of the gaps left by Lowry. Lowry is the better player of the two, but The BBall Index's lineup creator tool doesn't project the Raptors to have a significant dropoff in terms of spacing, playmaking and the rate at which they get to the rim in swapping him for Dragic. If he starts, Dragic has the potential to complement VanVleet well in the backcourt, giving the Raptors another shooter and playmaker. If he comes off the bench - Dragic started in only 36 of the 145 games he appeared in over the last three regular seasons with the Heat - he could transform a second unit that ranked dead-last in scoring last season.
The other end of the court is a different story.
Whereas Lowry is widely considered to be one of the better guard defenders in the league, Dragic has never been known for his defence. He's not as disruptive of an off-ball defender - Lowry is one of the best charge-drawers in the league and is good for a steal per game, as well as a couple of deflections - and he's not nearly as switchable. Going from Lowry to Dragic is a pretty sizable downgrade defensively.
Even so, Dragic is still a smart player with size at his position. The Raptors can surround him with strong defenders at every other position, and he's been a part of elite defences in the past. At least in the regular season, the Raptors should have the personnel to make up for Dragic's shortcomings on defence.
Considering the boost Dragic could give the Raptors offensively, it's easy to see why they would be interested in keeping him around.
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