Is Goran Dragic a Good Fit With the Miami Heat?

Dragic is having one of the worst seasons of his career. What gives?

The Miami Heat acquired point guard Goran Dragic at last season's trade deadline, but they never really managed to get an accurate look at how he fit with the team, since Chris Bosh was ruled out for the rest of the season with blood clots on his lung shortly after the deal was completed. 

During Dragic's 26 games after the trade, he performed on a level that was at least comparable with his 2013-14 season with the Phoenix Suns, for which he received All-NBA Third Team honors. For that reason, the Heat were comfortable giving him a new five-year deal this summer worth $86 million, despite the fact that he never played a single minute with Bosh -- arguably the team's best player.

It was a gamble, for sure, but one just about any team would take to retain an All-NBA-caliber player under 30. The problem now, however, is that Dragic's having one of his worst seasons as a pro in the first year of his new deal.

His 42.9% shooting percentage is his worst since his rookie season, while his 26.9% mark from three-point range is a career low. His 12.6 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is also his lowest since his first year and a far cry from the 21.4 he set just two seasons ago during his All-NBA campaign.

What gives?

Well, Dragic just doesn't seem to be a good fit with either of the Heat's two other stars in Bosh and Dwyane Wade. First, here's how Bosh and Wade are doing both with and without Dragic on the floor this season (numbers per

Splits Minutes Possessions Usage Rate eFG% Pts/Possession
Bosh w/ Dragic 531 1013 20.8 46.3% 1.07
Bosh w/o Dragic 258 501 28.3 56.7% 1.34
Wade w/ Dragic 555 1069 31.3 46.6% 1.02
Wade w/o Dragic 129 255 32.5 45.5% 1.00

As you can see, Bosh is performing much better without Dragic on the floor than he is when the two are playing together. He registers a much higher Usage Rate in those possessions, shoots with an Effective Field Goal Percentage that's 10 points better, and scores a whopping 1.34 points per possession, compared to 1.07 with Dragic. 

Wade, on the other hand, has numbers that are pretty well the same in both instances. The opposite is certainly not true, however; Wade is clearly still the alpha dog in Miami, and there's no clearer picture of that than the difference in Dragic's performance during possessions played with and without Wade on the floor:

Splits Minutes Possessions Usage Rate eFG% Pts/Possession
Dragic w/ Wade 555 1069 17.9 43.6% 0.87
Dragic w/o Wade 202 383 26.0 53.2% 1.01

Dragic is certainly not having a great season by his standards, but it appears that he's only struggling during possessions when he's playing alongside Wade. He has a Usage Rate that's 8.1 percentage points higher when Wade's off the floor than when he's on, and with the added control comes added efficiency, as he's also shooting with an Effective Field Goal Percentage that's nearly 10 points higher and scoring 0.14 more points per possession.

Of course, this looks familiar. The Dragic-Eric Bledsoe pairing had mixed results in Phoenix, and Dragic's All-NBA season just so happened to take place during a year in which Bledsoe missed 39 games. Dragic recorded the highest Usage Rate of his career (24.5%).

Simply put, Dragic appears at his most effective when he can dominate the ball. In Miami, though, there are simply too many mouths to feed for that to happen.

The Heat are popping up in trade rumors, mostly regarding pending free agent Hassan Whiteside, but it's clear that a shakeup is needed. Trading Wade or Bosh is almost certainly out of the question, and they probably don't want to bail on Dragic after one-third of a season, but coach Erik Spoelstra might need to start staggering minutes between his three top players a little more. Either that, or they'll have to find a way to coexist and get the best out of each other. 

For the moment, that simply isn't happening.