Dragan Bender (213 cm) has opted to leave the NBA and is taking his game to Europe after agreeing to a deal to play for CSKA Moscow (Russia-VTB) for the 2019-20 season.
Bender is an international basketball player who holds passports from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He’s was a former member of the Croatian National Team from 2016 to 2017.
He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns fourth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft and has spent the last three seasons of his pro career playing for the Arizona franchise.
Despite his high draft pick, Bender was unable to parlay multiple opportunities to shine, even given starting gigs at power forward, into meaningful minutes on the court. He was projected to have stretch-four or stretch-five potential in the NBA due to his size and shooting touch, but has ended up disappointing many observers and fans alike.
In 2018-19 Bender played 46 games for the Suns and averaged 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in just over 18.0 minutes per game. He struggled to be much of a threat from the outside, converting on just 21.8 percent of his shot attempts from 3-point range.
Bender’s career enters a new chapter. Hopefully, a more positive one as he gets a fresh start in Europe manning the frontcourt duties of reigning VTB United League champions, CSKA Moscow. Despite being just 21-years-old, Bender already brings to the table some solid NBA experience. He will need to make adjustments to a Euro-style of play, but that should work in his favor in the end as he battles less dominant and athletic big men in the paint compared to his time in the NBA.