Phoenix Suns: Hard decision between Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 3: Dragan Bender
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 3: Dragan Bender /

The Phoenix Suns haven’t seen significant development from either Dragan Bender nor Marquese Chriss, which makes deciding their future difficult.

There are three positions that the Phoenix Suns have to solidify this summer if they are to be competitive next season. While the point guard and center positions are the two most glaring issues that the Suns have, the franchise needs to decide what direction they need go with for the power forward position. The club has two players with plenty of potential at the position with Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, but potential is about all that  these two players have shown thus far in their careers. Neither player has shown enough progress to help the Suns make a decision on how to move forward at the power forward position.

In a past article, Khaleel Abdullah of Valley of the Suns wrote that as of now Bender has a slight edge over Chriss. However, the overall body of work both players put into this season makes it difficult to decide who had the better season. Chriss and Bender produced similar stats in their second years in the NBA, but their are several important differences between their games that make their impacts on the Suns different.

Per Game Table
1Dragan Bender2017-1820823725.2.386.366.426.508.7650.
2Marquese Chriss2017-1820724921.2.423.295.509.482.6081.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2018.

Bender can stretch the floor much better than Chriss can, while Chriss shows to be the better rebounder and more aggressive defender with his shot blocking ability. Depending on who the next Suns head coach will be and the style of play he likes, will dictate both of their values to the franchise.

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Another factor to consider is that Bender showed overall growth his second season, where as Chriss regressed from his rookie season. Granted Chriss said that he wasn’t in basketball shape entering in the season, so part of his stat decrease can be attributed to that. This is backed up with a general increase in his stats as the season went on.

A positive for the Suns is that both players played better after the All-Star break. Bender‘s shooting numbers went down, but his points, rebounds, assists and blocks stats all saw an increase. While at the same time, Chriss‘ numbers improved, besides a minor decrease in assists and 3-point percentage.

Next: Phoenix Suns 2018 offseason plans Part 2: Trades

Until the Phoenix Suns get a head coach that will help decide how the roster is built, it’s going to be hard to figure out who will be the Suns long-term answer at power forward for the Suns’ front office. It could end up that neither Chriss nor Bender is starting at the position next season. Due to their lack of ability to stand out, the franchise could look else where for an answer at power forward.