MILWAUKEE – Goran Dragic’s teammates are speaking out about the point guard’s absence from the Three-Point Contest.
Dragic has been on a ridiculous streak from behind the arc that many players would be pressed to match shooting uncontested threes in practice. In his last five games, the Miami Heat point guard is a torrid 80 percent (16-of-20) on threes, including making a career high seven (in nine attempts) during Miami’s 115-113 victory at Minnesota on Monday.
Dragic, 30, hopes to say hot when Miami goes for it’s 12th straight win Wednesday at the Bucks.
Hassan Whiteside used social media to stump for Dragic for the shootout that will be held Jan. 18 during All-Star weekend.
“Name a starting PG shooting a better % form 3 this season than (Dragic) put him in the 3 point contest.”
Josh Richardson chimed in with: “All I’m saying is … (Dragic) is looking like one of the top shooters in the league.”
Richardson included the hashtag: NewOrleans.
The streak has moved Dragic to No. 2 in the league in 3s for the season with a 44.8 percentage.
Dragic made his first seven attempts against the Timberwolves.
“He’s in a great place, mentally, physically,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “His confidence level has grown but his game has also improved now. He started out the game knocking down the threes but down the stretch those aren’t the shots you’re going to get are open threes. And then he was able to put the ball on the floor and make pays.”
The NBA announced its field for the Three-Point Contest last week. Defending champion Klay Thompson of Golden State and 2013 winner Kyrie Irving of Cleveland head the field of eight. They are joined by Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Houston’s Eric Gordon, Dallas’ Wesley Matthews, Portland’s CJ McCollum and the Lakers’ Nick Young.
None are among the top 12 three-point shooters entering Tuesday’s games and just four are in the top 25 with Lowry and McCullum tied for 13th at 41.9 percent. Three of the players are ranked from 37th to 50th in percentage.
Dragic was honest about his sizzling start on Monday, saying the Timberwolves were not contesting his shot. And Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau did not disagree, blasting his team’s defensive effort.
Dragic repeated what he has said several times this season that his overall game is better because he entered the season more prepared and in better condition after playing this summer for his national team of Slovenia.
“I’m more consistent,” he said. “ This is the best shape I was in in my life. Hard work pays off.”
Dragic finished with 33 points at Minnesota, one off his high as a member of the Heat, shooting 13-of-17 from the floor. He continues to lead the Heat with a 21.1 scoring average. He has topped 20 points in five of his last six games and Miami has scored at least 100 points in its last nine games, including 118.7 per in its last three games.
“We’re sharing the ball, everybody knows what we’re doing and it’s fun,” Dragic said. “Nobody is thinking about his own shot. Every night somebody else is going to have a huge game.”
And on a night where he could not be stopped offensively, Dragic chipped in with nine assists.
“You cannot force (the shot),” he said. “You try to read the situation, try to get inside the paint that I usually do, try to collapse the defense and try to find the open guys.”
Oh, and as far as that support on social media, Dragic responded to Whiteside with some love of his own.
“I’ll go if (Whiteside) is in the dunk contest!! Lol”