Getting Goran Dragic was critical for Nets’ championship hopes

Toronto Raptors’ Goran Dragic is headed to the Nets, according to a report. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Goran Dragic is coming to the Nets.

The free agent point guard is signing with the team for the rest of the season, according to ESPN. The move shores up the Nets’ backcourt and gives them a steady, veteran presence at the point guard position in a year when consistency has eluded the team all season.

Acquiring Dragic was of the utmost importance for a Nets team with a part-time starting point guard.

The City’s vaccine mandate does not permit the unvaccinated Kyrie Irving to play at Barclays Center, which severely handicapped the team constructed around the talents of its two superstar scorers. As a result, James Harden was forced to shoulder a load greater than he prepared for this season in Brooklyn and Patty Mills, a career sixth man, was thrust into an unforeseen circumstance: starting at point guard in home games and coming off the bench or sliding to the two guard spot on the road.

Adding Dragic to the Nets backcourt addresses several needs. He is no superstar, but he has played at a high level — both in the NBA and internationally — for decades. He was a 2018 NBA All-Star and has averaged 14 points and five assists per game entering his 14th NBA season. And he is set to play inspired basketball after landing in Toronto as part of the Kyle Lowry trade to the Miami Heat, only to be benched and dealt to the Spurs at the trade deadline.

Acquiring Dragic gives Steve Nash options in the backcourt, and it’s likely why the Nets head coach led the recruitment efforts trying to lure his former Phoenix Suns mentee to Brooklyn.

In home games, where Irving is ineligible, Dragic could assume the starting role (he has started 60% of his career games) and move Mills back to a reserve role. And on the road, Dragic could come off the bench and play alongside Mills, who has struggled handling the ball and initiating the offense under heavy defensive pressure at different junctures this season.

The most underrated part of the Nets signing Dragic? It keeps him away from their direct competition.

The Milwaukee Bucks were reported to have significant interest in signing Dragic off the buyout market, but he ultimately chose Brooklyn. To make space on the roster, the Nets waived inconsistent point guard Jevon Carter.

In acquiring Dragic, the Nets have the players needed to substantiate their claim as championship favorites.

Kevin Durant and Irving give the Nets superstar offensive firepower. Ben Simmons is a perennial First Team All-Defense selection and one of the league’s most gifted scorers and finishers in transition. Acquiring sharpshooter Seth Curry supports the Nets in the absence of Joe Harris (ankle surgery) and adding Andre Drummond gives them a much-needed boost in cleaning the glass and patrolling the paint.

Now you add Dragic, a gifted playmaker, a floor-spacer and three-level scorer accustomed to championship culture having spent seven seasons playing under Erik Spoelstra on the Miami Heat.

There’s only one type of player the Nets need now: a three-and-D wing; someone who can defend at a high level and shoot threes a both high volume and efficiency.

The Nets have assembled the most formidable roster they could given the circumstances — a part-time point guard, a midseason blockbuster trade, and significant injuries to their best player and shooter.

Adding Dragic gives the Nets one of the most complete teams in all of basketball. With just 23 games left in the regular season, the only question remaining is whether Nash has enough time to make his puzzle pieces fit together against other teams — like Milwaukee, Miami, Philly, Golden State and Phoenix — whose puzzles have largely been constructed for years at a time.

The Nets have the pieces. Now it’s time to solve the puzzle — and fast.