Suns coach: Like Kevin Durant, Dragan Bender could become a big SF

Jun 25, 2016, 10:42 AM | Updated: Jun 26, 2016, 12:38 pm
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, congratulates Dragan Bender after Bender was selected fourth ov...
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, congratulates Dragan Bender after Bender was selected fourth overall by the Phoenix Suns during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
LISTEN: Earl Watson - Suns Head Coach

Suns head coach Earl Watson is not saying Dragan Bender is going to be the next Kevin Durant.

It’s a good thing, too, because it would come off as a bit ridiculous to say the 18-year-old forward is destined to become a league scoring champion and MVP, and put his name in the conversation as one of the best players in the entire world.

What Watson is saying, however, is like Durant back in 2007 when he was the second-overall pick out of Texas by the Seattle SuperSonics, the 18-year-old Bender has a rare combination of size and skill, and if taught correctly, could be something special.

“He’s a blank canvas as well; he’s really skilled, he can play, he can move, he can shoot,” he told Off the Edge with B-Train on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. “I think he’s still growing. I think he has the potential to play the 3 in the NBA.”

Bender is listed at 7-foot-1 and 225 pounds. Last season with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in the Euroleague, he averaged 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in just under nine minutes per game. However, while his statistics don’t jump off the page, few saw the Suns tabbing him at No. 4 overall as a reach.

No, most see Bender as a uniquely-talented player who, in time, could be valuable for the Suns.

As for what position he would play, Watson said he understands why some would question the idea of Bender playing small forward at his size.

“Like, he’s 7-foot-1, but so is Kevin Durant — he’s almost seven-feet tall,” Watson said, pointing to the 6-foot-9, 240-pound star. “And what makes Kevin Durant unique at the 3 position is that he can shoot over most defenders at his position.”

Watson added that they can pair the tall Durant with a big power forward and center, and combined with point guard Russell Westbrook being as dynamic as he is, the Thunder “just too much to overcome with athleticism.”

With Bender along with No. 8 pick Marquese Chriss, as well as Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Alex Len, the Suns are confident they have put together a group with similar traits.

“But now we have a team, and we have a roster and a family, that can compete at the highest level of basketball in the Western Conference and in the NBA overall.”

Penguin Air

Most Popular

Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Ind...
Arizona Sports

The 5: Cardinals NFL Combine 40-yard dash stars drafted by Steve Keim

From Rondale Moore to John Brown, here are five notable NFL Draft Combine stars the Arizona Cardinals ended up selecting under GM Steve Keim.
2 months ago
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98....
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim’s history of NFL Draft-day trades

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim hasn't been afraid to deal during the NFL Draft, making trades during seven of nine drafts.
2 months ago
Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after recovering an onside kick during the fourth...
Arizona Sports

The 5: Arizona Cardinals’ most recent Monday Night Football matchups

A look at the Arizona Cardinals' five most recent MNF appearances ahead of the Wild Card clash vs. the Los Angeles Rams.
6 months ago
Follow @kzimmermanaz...
Kevin Zimmerman

The 5: Arizona teams’ most notable Christmas games

The Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns have played in their fair share of Christmas games. Many have been significant for varying reasons.
7 months ago
Jordan McCloud #4 of the Arizona Wildcats runs with the ball against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Sta...
Arizona Sports

Wildcats start McCloud at QB, fall on the road to No. 3 Oregon

The Arizona Wildcats started their third QB of the season in Jordan McCloud as they lost 41-19 on the road against No. 3 Oregon.
9 months ago
Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the game against the Seattle ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks extend manager Torey Lovullo through 2022

Amid a season of cellar-dwelling in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks made the decision to extend manager Torey Lovullo through the 2022 season.
9 months ago
Suns coach: Like Kevin Durant, Dragan Bender could become a big SF