Dragan Bender was a surprising addition to the Golden State Warriors last season. A strong performance could solidify his role with the team.
The Golden State Warriors were pleasantly surprised by Dragan Bender’s performances down the stretch of last season. The former lottery pick had years of underwhelming stints but may have finally found a role permanent with a team.
Bender was the 4th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. In his rookie season with the Phoenix Suns, Bender posted just 3.4 points per game and was one of the biggest disappointments in recent history. By his fourth season, Bender was clinging on desperately to a roster spot with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 22-year-old lasted only 7 games in Milwaukee before being released. Then, in late February, Bender signed a 10-day contract with a depleted Warriors team. This is where Bender finally made an impact, averaging close to 10 points and 6 rebounds a night.
Bender’s first few games were enough to earn him another 10-day contract, where he finished the season in fashion with a 23 point game versus the LA Clippers. This tied his career-high for points.
As of now, Bender is the tallest member of the Warriors, listed at 7-feet tall. Though the Warriors are desperate for size in the paint, Bender’s height has actually been one of his downfalls. He is too frail to bang against bigger opponents and not quick enough to defend the perimeter.
However, his saving grace has been his soft shooting touch. Bender has flirted with being a consistent 3-point shooter throughout his career, connecting on 36.6 percent of his attempts as a sophomore. He began to find his stroke again with the Dubs, hitting 6-of-14 attempts in his last five games.
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Bender won’t have a big role with the team but he could be used as a floor-spacer off the bench next season. If he is capable of knocking down 3-pointers and rebounding at a decent rate, Bender can secure a more permanent spot on the roster.