It can stem from pressure of living up to a new contract, adjusting to new teammates or even some off the court distractions.
For Miami point guard Goran Dragic, all of the above are applicable.
At the trade deadline last season, the Heat acquired Dragic in a risky move — since he was becoming an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2015 — but his presence provided a much needed lift after Chris Bosh went down for the year with blood clots in his lungs.
In 26 games with Miami, Dragic posted 16.6 points, 5.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and connected on 50.2 percent of his attempts from the field.
His reward was a five-year, $90 million deal.
Dragic spent the off-season back in his home country of Slovenia, as his wife Maja gave birth to his second child.
While Dragic remains one of the most impressive point guards in the league in scoring at the rim, converting 60.5 percent of his attempts at the basket, the rest of his game has slightly declined.
The 27-year-old is averaging 11.1 points, 5.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, as his shooting numbers have dropped significantly. Dragic is converting 42.7 percent of his attempts from the field (his lowest since his rookie year) and his connecting on just 25 percent of his 3-point attempts, the lowest of his career.
To complicate his play even further, Dragic has been playing with a soft cast on his right hand to prevent further injury to his thumb for the past few days and he was forced to sit out Tuesday’s game against Detroit with a sprained left wrist.
Despite his struggles, Miami boasts the third best record in the Eastern Conference at 17-11 and Dragic believes he is due for a turnaround.
Prior to Saturday’s game against Orlando, Dragic sat down with Shatter the Glass to discuss what influenced him to return to the Heat, playing on Christmas Day and much more.
What made coming back to Miami the right decision for you?
It was the right team, they have a winning culture. I’m all about winning, I want to someday get that ring. This team heads in that direction every year, so that’s why it feels good.
What was your reaction when you found out the Heat signed your former teammate in Phoenix, Gerald Green?
I was happy because we had a great connection when we played together in Phoenix. I know he is a really exciting player, he can make some crazy shots and dunks. He’s really a good defender. Maybe in the past he never showed that, but now, we play him against some tough players and he is doing really well.
Friday’s game against New Orleans was your second time playing on Christmas, how special is it to be apart of that slate of games?
It was fun. I wish the game would have been later, it’s tough to play at noon, but it’s good. Since we had the back to back, it gave us a little bit more time to rest.
Was it a bit tougher coming to Orlando after playing the Pelicans yesterday?
It’s always tough. You don’t feel right, your body is hurting, but it really is all in your mind. If you convince yourself that you play as hard as possible, than that really isn’t a big deal.
The roster surrounds you with some really good perimeter shooters, how has that helped your game?
I’m playing the pick-and-roll more with Chris Bosh and we have a great connecting, it kind of feels like I’m playing with Channing Frye again from back in the day. It’s hard because we have so many options on the offense, so many weapons that it takes some time to adjust.
Is this the most balanced team you have been on?
Yeah, for sure. Everybody can score, the only problem sometimes is that there is only one ball. So you need to find that balance. Everybody is happy, we understand that some games, some guys are going to score high numbers. At the end, the most important thing is winning.
What improvements have you tried to make to your game this season?
This summer, I was back home and I had a tough situation with my wife’s pregnancy so I was really not focused enough. But it’s a new team. First I need to fit in well and I need to understand what kind of philosophies they are running. I think we are doing well, but it is going to take some time. It’s a work in progress.