Pacific Notes: Bender, Kings, Lakers, Ayton

After failing to become long-term building blocks in Phoenix, former Suns lottery picks Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender have reunited in Golden State. Bender is only on a 10-day contract for now, but Chriss thinks his former and current frontcourt mate is fitting in nicely with the Warriors, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details.

“I think it’s a good fit for him, especially being around people who believe in you and help you grow,” Chriss said. “I think that’s all he needs.”

Bender’s 10-day contract with the Warriors will expire on Tuesday night, at which time Golden State will have the option of signing him to a second 10-day deal before having to make a decision on a rest-of-season commitment. Bender, who is simply looking to prove he still belongs in the NBA, hopes he’s making a good impression.

“I take it day-by-day,” Bender recently said, per Rankin. “I think there’s always options, but with this team, take it day-by-day and see what happens. Obviously, a great place to be, like I said. Great organization. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, but like I said, take it day-by-day and see what happens.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Although the Kings have missed Richaun Holmes over the last two months, they could actually have a logjam at center soon, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Holmes is reportedly nearing a return, but Harry Giles and Alex Len have played well up front for Sacramento as of late, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team divvies up playing time down the stretch.
  • Despite the fact that Anthony Tolliver was waived by the Kings over the weekend, he and Kent Bazemore helped get the team out of its lowest point of the season in January, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The two recently-acquired veterans told their new teammates in a team meeting that they were better than their record showed. “We were very vocal about the potential here,” Tolliver said. “Coming from Portland and seeing how we played there, and seeing how these guys played here, even though they were losing a lot of games at that point, we were like, ‘You guys are not that far away from winning.'” Sacramento is 11-5 since that motivational pep talk.
  • With a comfortable hold on the top seed in the West, the Lakers are using the final stretch of the season to experiment a little with lineups, says Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. That included starting Alex Caruso when Danny Green missed Saturday’s game with a minor hip injury.
  • Even though he’s not the All-Star and borderline MVP candidate that Luka Doncic is, Deandre Ayton is on an impressive run for the Suns, averaging 20.9 PPG and 12.4 RPG in his last 19 games. Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic makes the case that it wasn’t a mistake for Phoenix to select Ayton first overall in 2018, two spots ahead of Doncic.
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39 thoughts on “Pacific Notes: Bender, Kings, Lakers, Ayton

  1. Skip, Tampa

    After his last few stops, it’s easy to look at teams that way. Bender needs someone who knows How to develop a big forward.

  2. shmurdascene

    How is Luka Doncic a “borderline MVP candidate”? He’s not borderline, he’s a MVP candidate, without question.

    • Luke Adams

      He’s missed 13 games so far and his team is a No. 7 seed, so I think he’ll be on some ballots and left off others. Giannis seems like such a lock to win that the relative strength of Doncic’s candidacy is just debating semantics.

    • JonnyLucas

      Haha. He’s running maybe 5th in the vote. That’s pretty borderline since only 1 will win.

      • El Don

        At the moment he is the 3rd best player in the league, behind Giannis & Harden… so I wouldn’t say borderline at all!

  3. mlbnyyfan

    Sun’s didn’t make the mistake it was the Kings and Hawks for not taking Donic

  4. Boston2AZ

    Ayton is and always be a stat-filler. He’s a liability on defense and his effort/passion is marginal at best. His ceiling is Andre Drummond.

  5. KnickerbockerAl

    Gotta be on a contender. To be MVP material. Bender should get a long look. I think he needs gd coaching. Can be a rotation player. He’s a skilled big. It’s a confidence thing right now. Gotta invest time in developing.

      • Howie415

        It depends on the team. Not all teams have a g league Affiliation. The Warriors have a coach that splits time between Santa Cruz and SF working with certain players.

        • x%sure

          So GSW believes in the GL concept too.

          Otherwise, the GL is a piddling anti-market enterprise.

          • Howie415

            What are you talking about? I think it could be used better. How is it an anti-market enterprise?

            • x%sure

              Yes it could be used better and should be. GSW did that for 13 games then gave him a 10-day. What next? More GL, or leave him at the end of the bench for special situations? If he can be attacked on D, no playoff time.

              Bender had to be given up on to go to the GL in the first place.

              If NBA teams aren’t going to use the GL for player development, why keep supporting it? I suggested a cynical reason… nevermind.

              • Howie415

                He has only played 5 games with GS. He is getting 23 minutes a night. The Warriors were eliminated from the playoffs long ago.

                • x%sure

                  Yes and? Point?
                  He gets more time in the GL. You say the relevant coach travels regardless.
                  Why disagree with JohnnyLucas in the first place?

                  • Howie415

                    What drugs are you taking? Who is JohnnyLucas? What does he have to do with the Warriors?

                      • Howie415

                        Again. What drugs are you on? Despite what JohnnyLucas has said. Dragan Bender has not spent a single second with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Why do you insist upon that?

                        • x%sure

                          I don’t keep insisting on Santa Cruz and that is your thing not mine. It doesn’t matter what GL team he played for, he kept growing, will probably keep growing, to what end IDK but I am skeptical in this system. Growth is better if he’s not back-and-forth, or making him specialized. By the time he’s ready to start in the NBA it will be time to start the cycle again with another hopeful. Next year GSW could be like the Bucks, with not much room for him.

                          But that is one guy. The system as a whole needs work including “2ways”.

  6. Skip, Tampa

    Bender might be a good player for a Heat rehab project. They have 7′ PF’s, big men coaching and a very good G League program.
    Riley is looking for some extra rim protection support. Although he may be aiming a bit higher. Always a off season move on the 20 man roster for him.

    • Howie415

      Bender needs playing time, like he is in GS. GS has resurrected Chriss’s career. They a program set in place for Smiley.

      • x%sure

        They’re losing and can patronize, if that’s a program.

        Bender improves every year and at the end of every year, he needs to improve more. Some guys are like that. Bender’s PER is a lousy 5.9 for GSW.

        • Howie415

          Huh? How are they being patronizing towards Bender? They are giving him time to play, which he hasn’t gotten in his other stops. He is new to the system, and teammates.

              • x%sure

                I didn’t say he wasn’t. I pointed out he was.
                That’s why I said patronizing; he is being given something, playing time, but not for a playoff push… He was improving in the GL but in cheaper hotels.
                Not sure what your point is, you keep repeating.

  7. Tazza

    Ayton has been balling but he is a bit of a stat sheet stuffer and he did miss heaps of games with his drugs violation so he have came in feeling more fresh when players are starting to tire.

    He is about defensively weak but if the suns were to move for Wendell Carter Jr who wants to move back to PF then that would be a smart move. Carter he is a good defender similar to Al Horford in that he isn’t tall and long but he defends space well, gets in the way, tops passes and clogs the lanes. That’s the perfect complementary player to Ayton who has the size at 6’11. Carter Jr also wouldn’t clog up the paint or ask for the ball to much, he only shoots 8 shots and 1 of which is a 3.

    Suns should definitely be asking the price of Carter and be willing to give up either Bridges or Johnson to replace Otto Porter as a starting point. Maybe Johnson and sign and trade Dario Saric

    • El Don

      How is Ayton a stat sheet stuffer? I mean his job is to score 20+PPG & grab 10+RPG, so he does. Can’t understand the concept his job like any other NBA player is to fill the box score which in turn makes your team win, right?

      • Curtisrowe

        That is like when people say guys “steal rebounds”.

        Makes no sense.

      • gwhempel

        Devin Booker has been filling the box score for years now, how many playoff games has he appeared in? Same with Beal, KAT, Trae, Drummond, etc. Guys can put up gaudy (and empty) stats on a bad team. It happens every season.

        All of the guys mentioned are obviously NBA-level talents, even all-stars. But the jury is out on whether they can contribute to winning basketball.

  8. greg1

    El Don, the point is that Ashton does not help his team win, that’s where stat stuffer comes from.

    There have been many of these players in history, including someone like Shareef Abdur-Rahim who put up 20+, 9+ and 1.5 steals over a five year period.

    • x%sure

      Is it possible that Ayton is merely sluggish, in that his head is not connected to his feet very well?
      In the past, sometimes he would just wave his arms on defense instead of getting in better position. The coaches may have made him stop waving but that doesn’t mean he will get to a spot in time. The problem is a lack of foot movement which could come from depression.

    • El Don

      So if your team win then you good if your team doesn’t win you are just padding your stats? Oh boy, isn’t it possible that you are just playing out of your skin but your team sucks? I don’t see any relationship between what a player contributes & winning.
      As I say all the time if Giannis had been this year in Cleveland, NY or GSW, those teams would not have been anywhere near the playoffs anyway, so it doesn’t matter how good is a player, no player can push a team to win regularly if the team ain’t good.

      • gwhempel

        You don’t see any relationship between what a player contributes and winning? What? This isn’t NBA2k, there’s more to basketball than piling up stats.

        If you’re saying one player doesn’t make that big of a difference, why didn’t Cleveland continue their Finals streak last year? Why did they drop from 50 wins to 19? Don’t be silly.

        If LeBron was still in Cleveland, they would make the playoffs. If Steph didn’t get hurt, GSW would be at least be competing for a spot. If New York had Giannis, they’d be a playoff team this year.

        There are lots and lots of examples of this in NBA history.

  9. Simple Fan

    Golden State’s got to keep him if they love Dragan. It wouldn’t be bad for the worst team in the league to at least acknowledge their own. Bender can’t play for Portland, unless they sign him. But for now he is on the Warriors. They have to admit this guy has the better legs the more sheen and the toughness to perform ball more than letting him get away so then they should sign him, get him into touch with their team, accept him as a huge that they had when it was their shortcomings coming in first. A tall Bender in their roster next year will modify all the qualms they had this year.

    It wasn’t really Steph’s year to drop out this year but it also was like Golden State floats there and doesn’t really care. They have probably the worst organization in the history of sports and they still support the disallocation of all star players. Them and Steph ruined their nightmare season ahead of time this year because team Steph couldn’t only crumb out in an all-star game, but he had to break his hand on an intentional flagrant foul trying to jump over a Suns player

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