Expect to see a lot of Dragan Bender…on the Phoenix Suns bench

Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

It’s only the preseason so it’s too early to overreact. That is the only thing you can tell yourself if you still believe that third-year Dragan Bender of the Phoenix Suns will see the court much early in the year. In only two games he has fallen out of favor in the rotation to some of the young wings on the roster.


That is Dragan Bender’s +/- through two Phoenix Suns preseason games, one of which was against the New Zealand Breakers of the Australian Basketball League.

What is more impressive about this stat line is that it took Bender only 27 minutes to put up such a poor rating.

Being that he didn’t play until the fourth quarter against the Breakers, the Phoenix Suns seem to have finally passed the now nearly 21-year-old Dragan Bender by.

A week ago it would seem foolish to think this, but now it is seems inevitable, that Bender is likely to go many games during the regular season while never leaving the bench.

And who can blame Igor Kokoškov if he did this? It is his first shot as a head coach and he should have no intention of losing games at the expense of developing young players – especially players with no elite key skills (hey Troy Daniels!) and very little consistency to boot.

With the center position locked down, it limits Bender to the power forward spot in the lineup.

As of right now there is no way he starts or plays over $20 million man Ryan Anderson.

Beyond Anderson, his only competition is other young players T.J. Warren, and Mikal Bridges, both of whom deserve to play – T.J. was the 2nd best player on the team last year and Mikal was just a top-10 pick who deserves the same chance Bender had to try and prove himself.

Especially at the start of the year, the Phoenix Suns will be running with their most competitive roster in years, this is when Bender will be buried at the end of the bench the most.

He will be relegated to the tank-team, clean up crew, garbage time player or what have you.

If, and that is a big if,  the Suns decide to go full tank mode, that would be the first time I would expect Bender to get consistent and meaningful playing time.

Next. Deandre Ayton is quietly dominating the preseason. dark

This all is not to say that all hope is lost or that the Suns should completely give up on him, however a good argument is building.

He is still only 20-years-old but he has already lost his best chance, and will need some help to get another real one.

Hopefully as we move into the regular season Bender is able to bounce back and earn back some of that playing time.