Dragan Bender
Dragan Bender
21-Year-Old ForwardF
Phoenix Suns
2018 Fantasy Outlook
After playing in just 43 games as a rookie, Bender took the court for all 82 contests this past season, including picking up 37 starts. He nearly doubled his playing time, going from 13.3 minutes to 25.2, while posting career highs across the board. However, those averages were still just 6.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists, so despite the improvements, Bender wasn't a viable Fantasy option in the bulk of leagues. His upside as a floor-stretching big man still remains after hitting 1.4 three-pointers at a 36.6 percent clip, but if he doesn't take another step forward as an all-around player during the upcoming campaign, the Suns could look elsewhere to fill their power forward minutes. With the potential for the Suns to roll out some small ball lineups with guys like Trevor Ariza and T.J. Warren at the four, as well as less time being available at center following the addition of No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, Bender could have a tough time even matching his workload from last year. It'll be safe to avoid Bender in a plethora of different formats. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a two-year, $8.74 million contract with the Suns in July of 2016. Suns exercised $4.66 million team option for 2018-19 in October of 2017. Suns declined $5.9 million team option for 2019-20 in October of 2018.
Non-factor once again
FPhoenix Suns
March 14, 2019
Bender had three points, three rebounds, and one assist in 14 minutes during Wednesday's 114-97 loss to the Jazz.
Bender played just 14 minutes in Wednesday's loss, continuing to run with the opening five despite basically no production. He has certainly not progressed as the Suns would have liked and can be left on all waiver wires.
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Average Fantasy Points
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Bender missed almost half of his rookie campaign last season due to a combination of DNP-CDs and an ankle injury, which required surgery. When he did step on the court, however, he averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds across 13.3 minutes per game while shooting 35.4 percent from the field and 28-of-101 from beyond the arc. While the lack of efficiency is certainly disappointing, it’s important to keep in mind that he wasn’t a staple within the Suns’ rotation and often played on a sore ankle. That said, he did occasionally flash potential when he was feeling good. During Dec. 26’s game against the Rockets, Bender recorded 11 points (5-11 FG, 1-4 3Pt), 13 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists across 27 minutes. He will have to compete for playing time during the upcoming season, however. The Suns drafted Josh Jackson with the fourth overall pick during the 2017 NBA Draft. With Jackson being primarily touted as a small forward, that may push the likes of T.J. Warren up to power forward – Bender’s position. Not to mention the presence of Marquese Chriss and Jared Dudley. While coach Earl Watson will likely do what he can to get Bender significant run, it may come down to how Bender performs during training camp and what kind of improvements he can show throughout the season. As a result, Bender can probably be avoided in the vast majority of Fantasy formats, as it’s uncertain if he’ll even take the floor during every game he suits up for.
The consensus top foreign player in the 2016 NBA Draft, Bender went No. 4 overall to the Suns, who doubled down on the power forward position by using their second lottery pick on Washington freshman Marquese Chriss. The 7-foot-1 Bender epitomizes the stretch four most teams are looking for in the modern pace-and-space NBA, but the 18-year-old may face a longer development curve than most of his fellow first-rounders after doing little to distinguish himself in summer league play with the Suns. Over five games, Bender averaged 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds across 32.0 minutes per contest while shooting an abysmal 27.5 percent from the field. The Suns won’t overreact too much to the small sample, as Bender exhibited much improvement from three-point range last season with Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv and was lauded during the pre-draft process for his willingness to move the ball, ability to make plays off the dribble and excellent mobility. While Bender’s lack of bulk makes him susceptible to getting outmuscled in the paint defensively, his long arms still allow him to make an impact as a shot blocker. Both Bender and Chriss are expected to see their minutes expand in the second half of their rookie seasons once they’ve gotten fully acclimated to an NBA training regimen, but in the meantime, veteran Jared Dudley is set to assume most of the court time at power forward in the early going. As such, Bender’s fantasy value figures to remain mostly limited as a rookie, but he makes for a worthy target in dynasty formats.
More Fantasy News
Still starting despite no production
FPhoenix Suns
March 10, 2019
Bender compiled just five points, three rebounds, and two assists in 16 minutes during Saturday's 127-120 loss to the Trail Blazers.
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Invisible in second start
FPhoenix Suns
March 3, 2019
Bender had just five points, three rebounds, and one steal in 17 minutes during Saturday's 118-109 victory over the Lakers.
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Draws start Friday
FPhoenix Suns
March 1, 2019
Bender will start Friday's game against the Pelicans.
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Back on bench
FPhoenix Suns
February 11, 2019
Bender moved to the bench for Sunday's 117-104 loss to the Kings and finished with two points (1-3 FG, 0-2 3Pt), six rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes.
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Ineffective in start
FPhoenix Suns
February 8, 2019
Bender totaled two points, six rebounds, and five assists in 18 minutes during Friday's 117-107 loss to Golden State.
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