Sounds Like the Bulls Have the Right Idea for Goran Dragic's Role This Season

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Sounds Like the Bulls Have the Right Idea for Goran Dragic’s Role This Season

Chicago Bulls

Goran Dragic isn’t buying a motorcycle, sporting designer sweatsuits, or adding the word “lit” to his vocabulary. Instead, the 15-year NBA veteran is fully accepting the fact that he isn’t the player he used to be, and he let everyone know it at Media Day.

“I’m 36 years old, I’m not the youngest anymore, but I still have that passion,” Dragic said. “And that’s the most important thing.”

Dragic demonstrated that passion during another impressive EuroBasket run with his home country of Slovenia this summer. Previously retired from international play, the reigning EuroBasket MVP decided to suit up one final time and help Dallas Mavericks’ superstar Luka Doncic lead the team. While the tournament trip ended sooner than the 2017 champions surely hoped, Dragic performed like someone who still belonged on the hardwood.

Whether it be a clutch game-winning 3-pointer, a savvy inbound pass off an opponent’s back, or the go-ahead steal and layup to take down powerhouse France, Dragic showed the Bulls’ front office that they invested in more than a wise washed-up benchwarmer. To be sure, nobody is expecting him to replicate the 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists he averaged in that unique basketball environment, but does he need to for his first year in Chicago to be a success? No. Period.

As important as it is for the Bulls to name Lonzo Ball’s replacement in the starting lineup, it’s more important to simply get back on a winning track. The team ended last season losing 15 of their final 22 regular season games before the Milwaukee Bucks took just five quick contests to end their playoff run.

The Bulls’ rapid demise revealed a glaring lack of experience and composure. And while going through that should at least spark some internal development, finding more veteran talent also became a necessity. Just ask Arturas Karnisovas: “With Goran, it was more about adding experience, a guy that was still hungry and chasing winning. Leadership – that was behind adding Goran,” Karnisovas said at Media Day.

Billy Donovan sang Dragic similar praises. The head coach commented on Dragic’s foresight and experience in a conversation on 670 The Score during the Mully & Haugh Show earlier this week. He stressed all the different ways the point guard could be used, even hinting at where Dragic’s spot in the rotation might be:

“He is obviously a great competitor, he’s been a great player, he’s played on the ball, he’s played off the ball. But I also think in speaking to him, he’s got a realistic expectation of where he is in his career at 36 years old. And I think he can really make a big impact in a couple of areas. 

One, I think his experience and leadership will be helpful to some younger players in the backcourt like Coby White and Ayo. I do think that his competitiveness and his toughness will add incredible value. So how do you utilize him? He’s not a guy that’s probably in a position on night in and night out that he’s going to be able to play 34-35 minutes. That’s just not where he’s at in his career and sometimes having a guy like that come off the bench shortens the game and then you can use him in more crucial situations.”

All things considered, this is where I expected the team to land on Dragic. Even though his savvy play could make sense alongside some of the Bulls’ starters, his services are likely best used off the bench. Not to mention, keeping someone like him healthy is a priority, and it will be easiest for Donovan to do that by managing his minutes in the second unit.

With that said, as someone who has 15 years of NBA experience under his belt and tasted playoff basketball in five of the last seven seasons, it’s now abundantly clear the Bulls value Dragic’s resume. They seem to believe he could have a real impact on this roster’s ability to take a competitive step, whether it be with his sheer knowledge or the last few drops of basketball juice left in the tank. And Dragic sure sounds ready to use both.

“Whatever they need. I think I have a lot of experience,” Dragic said. “I can be a vocal guy in the locker room if they need me. I can come from the bench and be that spark, so I’m at that point in my career where whatever is needed from me, I’m glad to do it. Like I said, I’m excited to be a part of this team.”

How Dragic plays this season isn’t going to make or break this group. However, his willingness to lend a helping hand and the awareness of the player he is today are two things the Bulls can use as they try to expand on last year’s success.

You can listen to Dragic’s full introductory press conference below:



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.