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NBA PM: Dragic Discusses State Of the HEAT

Goran Dragic on the loss of Dwyane Wade, chemistry with Hassan Whiteside, injuries and Miami’s playoff goal.

Lang Greene

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When the Miami HEAT acquired point guard Goran Dragic at the trade deadline during the 2014-15 campaign, the franchise was still reeling from the impact of losing four-time MVP LeBron James in free agency the previous summer.

Miami was desperately seeking reinforcements after losing arguably the best player in the game for nothing in return and the prevailing thought was that Dragic would become a key supporting cast member alongside All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Team president Pat Riley had also given center Hassan Whiteside a chance to salve his NBA career.

Fast forward almost two years. Wade is now lacing his high tops for the Chicago Bulls after departing in free agency this past summer and Bosh’s future is uncertain due to a recurring blood clot condition. The team is now being led by the duo of Dragic and Whiteside, who are now the team’s best players.

Ready or not, the HEAT are now carving out a new identity. But the 2016-17 campaign has gotten off to a rough start. As if overcoming the absences of Bosh and Wade wasn’t daunting enough, the roster has been ravaged by injuries to start the season.

Basketball Insiders recently caught up with Dragic to discuss the departure of future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade, being thrust into an expanded role, injuries ravaging the HEAT, his chemistry with center Hassan Whiteside and whether he thinks the team can still make a run at the playoffs.

Basketball Insiders: Goran, have you ever been a part of something like this? With all the injuries, how are you guys getting through this?

Goran Dragic: “If I’m honest, no, never. This is the most injuries that I was a part of and we just need to play. I know we don’t have enough guys, but we never use excuses. So, hopefully after this road trip, the guys are going to come back. It is what it is – this is part of the business, part of the NBA – and we’re going through some tough times. We just need to be focused and look [at the] positive.”

Basketball Insiders: You were banged up earlier in the season and are playing a lot of minutes now. How are you holding up?

Goran Dragic: “I’m good. The body isn’t a 100 percent of course, but I feel pretty awesome. I’m in good shape. I had some problems at the beginning of the season, but now I’m okay.”

Basketball Insiders: Now, with Wade leaving, of course, and Bosh not being around, a lot of this team’s offense is about the chemistry between you and Hassan Whiteside. How do you think you two guys are getting along together on the court? Do you feel like the cohesion is getting stronger?

Goran Dragic: “Yeah. Me and Hassan, we have a good chemistry. We worked on it a lot last season and we feel like that every game is better and better. Even now, I know what he’s going to do, he knows what I’m going to do, so we’re on the same page.

“But still, this is a young team, we have a lot of newer faces than last year, and we just need to find that good chemistry that we had in the preseason. But, it’s kind of hard because with all those injuries, players are out [so] it’s always a different starting lineup or different players on the floor. Hopefully, that won’t happen in the future.”

Basketball Insiders: Obviously, when you got to Miami, Wade was such a big part of the culture. When you found out he was leaving, were you in a bit of a shock?

Goran Dragic: “Yeah, I was in shock because he was there 13 years. I would never imagine he was going to go somewhere else because, the Miami HEAT, everyone knows that was D-Wade’s team. But I understand, this is a part of the business. When that happened, I was talking with him and I wished him all the best in Chicago. He’s a good friend of mine, and it is what it is. We’re all professionals, so we need to do our jobs and I had to embrace a new, bigger role, but I’m fine with that.”

Basketball Insiders: I know you guys are still just trying to work through some things and trying to get healthy, but do you think this squad has the talent to make a playoff run this season?

Goran Dragic: “I think so. We’ve shown how we can play. I know the record doesn’t show that, but most of those games were real close, it was only like three or four points difference. It’s just those little things that we need to correct. But, like I said before, with all those injuries it’s really hard to find continuity with all those players. Hopefully, we’re done with injuries and we can focus on that.”

Miami is currently 7-15, which puts them in the 13th seed in the Eastern Conference. The HEAT are ranked 14th in defense (allowing 103 points per 100 possessions) and they’re ranked 24th in offense (scoring 100.4 points per 100 possessions).

Miami will face two familiar faces today and tomorrow, as they play LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers tonight and then Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls tomorrow – with both games being on the road.

 

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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