Phoenix Suns: It’s time to give up on Dragan Bender

Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dragan Bender has had plenty of opportunities. It’s time for the Phoenix Suns to admit their mistake and give up on the former top five pick.

Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss will forever be linked by an unsuccessful 2016 NBA Draft for the Phoenix Suns. But Bender’s career thus far is reminiscent of another top five pick from the previous draft in Jahlil Okafor.

They started off differently, and they’ll be treated differently because of that. Jahlil Okafor led Duke to a national championship his only season in college, while Bender came in as a raw prospect from overseas. Okafor averaged 17.5 points and 7 boards his rookie season, while Bender averaged 3.4 and 2.4.

But ever since, both have struggled. Last season, Okafor saw the floor in just 28 games between two teams and averaged 6.3 points. Bender actually played every game last season, but he too averaged under seven points, and it’s reasonable to expect this season to go similarly to Okafor’s.

Even if he’s not traded, the Phoenix Suns are going to have a difficult time getting Bender consistently on the floor this season. He hurts the team in too many ways, and they finally have enough depth that they could go without him. One thing is clear: it’s time to give up on Dragan Bender.

Give up can mean a lot of things. But in some way it’s bound to happen. They should give up on him ever reaching the expectations placed on him when he was drafted. They should probably give up on him being useful in any way this season. That means at the very least not counting on him for meaningful minutes.

Giving up on Bender also likely includes gauging interest for a possible trade. The team is yet to pick up his option for next season, so if they’re done with him, it would make sense to try to get something back.

But if the Suns don’t want him, there’s a good chance no one else does either. The Sixers had to trade a second round pick just to get rid of Okafor, and the Suns would be better off stashing Bender at the end of the bench since his lack of a playing time is unlikely to become as big of a story.

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Bender has had countless opportunities to prove himself, but his play constantly says he’s not good enough. If the Phoenix Suns are serious about improving this season, they shouldn’t keep giving Bender a shot just to have him cost the team games. Like with Okafor, it’s time to give up on Dragan Bender.