After being named 2011 Finals MVP, Player of the Year and also Defensive Player of the Year in the Slovenian League, Zoran Dragic hopes this season brings him a step closer to joining his brother, Goran, in the NBA.
Zoran Dragic leaned on the metal railing surrounding the mixed-media zone at the 2011 EuroBasket in Vilnius, Lithuania and flashed a quick smile when asked about playing alongside his big brother.
It was last September and for the first time in their lives, Zoran and Goran Dragic shared the honor and experience of playing together for the Slovenian National Team in what was described at the time by both brothers as simply, "a dream come true".
Growing up in Slovenia's capital of Ljubljana, Zoran used to follow Goran around to different soccer and basketball games, hoping for the chance to show what he could do.
Now all of these years later, Zoran (who just turned 23-years old) still has aspirations of following in Goran's (25-years old) footsteps to the NBA and dreams of becoming the first Slovenian brothers to play in the league.
After the last two seasons Dragic has had playing in the Slovenian League for Krka Novo Mesto, his time to shine may not be too far behind.
It's roughly 5600 miles from Novo Mesto, Slovenia to Houston, Texas. In one city, Goran Dragic has suddenly positioned himself as a hot commodity on this summer's NBA free agent market by putting up career numbers as a back-up point guard of the Houston Rockets.
Serving in a role he portrayed behind Steve Nash in Phoenix for three seasons, the 6-foot-3 Dragic is averaging 10.9 points, 5 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 20 starts (58 games played) this season behind Kyle Lowry and just might be the most sought after point guard this offseason behind fellow free agents, Nash and Deron Williams.
But in another city halfway around the world, another Dragic is also making some noise.
Last season Zoran Dragic was named 2011 Finals MVP, Player of the Year and also Defensive Player of the Year in the Slovenian League as the 6-foot-5 shooting guard averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals a game and helped Krka Nova Mesto win the EuroChallenge Final Four.
In 25 games this season for Krka Novo Mesto, Dragic is averaging 11 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 53% from the field in the Adriatic League. During 12 Eurocup games, he averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game (57% from the field).
Dragic put up his best numbers during Slovenian League play. In 5 games, he averaged 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and shot 64.4% from the field and was named to the All-Star team.
While his overall scoring was down this season, Dragic isn't a stranger to criticism or overcoming the odds.
Some overseas basketball pundits may not prescribe to the belief that he could cut it in the NBA, but Dragic has persevered before. Chances are he will again.
Two years ago, he was the last player to be cut from the Slovenian National Team as they prepared for the FIBA World Championship. All Dragic did after that was battle back to make the roster for the 2011 European Championships, where he averaged 8.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game and shot 66% from the field.
Despite only shooting 1-13 from beyond the arc, he played aggressively in the cutting and slashing style the Dragic brothers have become known for. His trademark defense was also impressive.
Yet unlike Goran who was selected in the second round (45th overall) by the San Antonio Spurs in 2008, Zoran -- who was both on San Antonio and Phoenix's radar last June - went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, leaving his jump to the league up in the air and yet another goal for Dragic to strive for.
How long before Dragic gets his shot?
For Goran, this summer should serve as the chance to finally land a starting spot and a hefty payday as well.
As for Zoran, the dream to follow in his brother's footsteps to the NBA lives on.