Realistic Expectations for Phoenix Suns Rookie Dragan Bender in 2016-17

July 20th, 2016 by Jonathan Wasserman Leave a reply »

The Phoenix Suns passed on a number of productive college players to grab Maccabi Tel Aviv's Dragan Bender at No. 4 in the NBA draft.

Bender's long-term upside makes the pick a home run for a team that's in no position to compete out West anytime soon. He's built up hype over the years with flashes of eye-opening versatility during FIBA tournaments, Eurocamp, Basketball Without Borders and other scouting showcase events. Now it's a matter of whether he can convert those flashes into consistency.

Having played just 12.9 minutes a game overseas in 2015-16, Bender, the youngest player in Las Vegas Summer League at 18 years old, fits the description of a textbook project. Expectations must be tempered for the 7'1" Croatian who averaged 4.5 points last year between Euroleague and the Israeli League.


Team Fit

Though he'll prove capable of playing short stretches at small forward and center, Bender mainly projects as a 4. For now, the starting spot presumably belongs to veteran Jared Dudley, while Alex Len and Tyson Chandler share minutes at the 5.

Head coach Earl ...

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