Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender: A Brief Biography

Dragan Bender is a Croatian professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Bender made his professional debut KK Split at the age of 15. In 2014, he joined the KK Cedevita junior team for the Euroleague Basketball Next Generation Tournament. He then played for the Ironi Ramat Gan of the Liga Leumit, a second-tier level league in Israel.

In 28 games, he finished the season averaging 9.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 blocks for the 2014–15 season. In 2015-16, Bender debuted for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League. He was named a foreign All-Star for the 2016 Israeli All-Star game and he helped the team repeat as winners in the 2016 Israeli State Cup. Bender was drafted as the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns.

He was widely considered as one of the best international prospects in the draft. He recorded his first double-double in a 131–115 loss to the Houston Rockets, scoring 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. In 2018, Bender shot a career-best six 3 pointers, hitting 5 of them in the second half to end with a then career-high 20 points in a 114-110 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the same season, Bender scored a career-high 23 points against the Denver Nuggets in a 123-110 loss.

He played all 82 games in the 2017-18 season, which made him the only player on the Suns squad to do so that year. As part of the Croatian national Under-18 team, Bender averaged 14.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in 29 minutes per game and helped his team win the bronze medal at the 2014 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship in Turkey. He was also named to All-Tournament Team.

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