Dragan Bender Signs With Israeli Team

After spending four seasons in the NBA, Dragan Bender has signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, tweets European basketball reporter Nemanja Zoric. The deal will cover three months with an option to extend it for the entire season, according to Moses Barda of Team Scout (Twitter link).

The brief nature of Bender’s agreement will give him an opportunity to return to the NBA next season if an opportunity arises, writes Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops. Bender played two seasons in Israel before coming to the NBA.

Bender, 22, will replace former NBA player Quincy Acy with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Askounis adds. Acy signed a one-year deal with the team last summer, but couldn’t come to terms for a second season.

Bender’s NBA career was disappointing after the Suns took him with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft. Instead of blossoming into a star, he wound up as a journeyman, with short stints with the Bucks and Warriors this season after spending three years in Phoenix.

His best season was in 2017/18 when he appeared in all 82 games for the Suns, started 37 and averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per night. Phoenix elected not to offer him a rookie-scale extension, and he became a free agent last summer.

Bender signed with Milwaukee, but got into just seven games before being waived in February. He joined Golden State on a pair of 10-day deals and averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in nine games before the hiatus began.

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26 thoughts on “Dragan Bender Signs With Israeli Team

  1. Wishing Nothing but Success for the guy, he can be a good floor spacer and hopefully build on a longer NBA carrer.

  2. acarneglia

    Just a reminder Pascal Siakam, Domontas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, and Caris Levert were all picked after Bender.

    • hiflew

      Just a reminder, Bender is the same age as Obi Toppin, likely to be picked somewhere around #4 in this draft. Put Bender in a mid major university like Dayton and he dominates like Toppin for the past 4 years.

      • Totally different players though. Obi Toppin is a high-flying circus act and a little smaller (6-6, 6-7?) Dragan Bender is basically a spot-up shooter with zero athleticism. Spot-up shooter who doesn’t shoot it well enough yet mind you. Perfect Euroleague guy though.

        • jump shot

          But nobody’s expecting Toppin to tear up the nba, either, just as Bender hasn’t. Doesn’t matter what they’d do – or done – at the college level.

          • Bender’s a flop and can’t make an NBA roster to save his life. Toppin will be a rotation guy because of his athleticism on offense.

        • hiflew

          I agree they are different players. My point was that Bender has already been judged a flop. Whether you are right or wrong in that judgment is really irrelevant. My point was that IF he had gone to a college like Toppin, that judgment would not even apply for another 2-3 years. And if Toppin had entered the NBA in 2016, perhaps he would already be judged a flop as well.

          • Yes I understand but my opinion is that if Dragen Bender played four years at a mid-major he wouldn’t get drafted number 4 in the NBA. Probably somewhere between 15 and 25 after watching him against 21 and 22 year old Division 1 college players.

            In Europe you go against 25 to 35 year old undersized men ( 6 foot 8 centers and 5 10 point guards.) I guess it comes down to the opinion of division 1 college basketball versus Euroleague professional basketball. I’ll take a division 1 American player over a Euro league player. Just my opinion.

            So the Suns drafted Bender on potential at 18 years old and 6-10. And he would not have been a better player if he had gone to school. It’s his job in the NBA to improve his game 9 to 5, not sit in class and do homework. They’re working on their game all day long either in the weight room or a couple hour practice or a couple hours shoot around or the game itself. In college there’s three or four assistant coaches, in the NBA there’s 12 assistant coaches. It just comes down to opinion. After 4 years in school you’d see the Dragen Bender of today but not as developed and he’d probably be drafted in the late first round.

            Bottom line is this. Obi Toppin is better after 4 years in college then Dragen Bender is after 4 years in an NBA environment. And if the roles were reversed the spread would be even wider.

            • hiflew

              We will just have to agree to disagree on the spread of the role reversal. Yes you have to go to class and do homework in college, boo hoo. It’s not like college homework really takes that long to do. And college basketball stars aren’t exactly required to have a 100% attendance rate in class either. They have plenty of time to work with coaches and as the #1 option on a college team vs. the #10 guy on an NBA bench,
              the player is going to get far more attention from the coach. There are more coaches, but there is more talent to spread around as well. And it’s not like there is a ton of time to practice either. So they might have less time, but in my opinion they get more quality time.

              Anyway, I believe Bender would have been better for one reason and one reason alone…confidence. Getting manhandled in the NBA by guys 10 years older and 50pounds heavier over an 82 game season is going to beat you down. Bender could have been playing against a 6’6″ center from Stephen F Austin or Pepperdine that is probably going to be a car salesman after graduation. He would have DOMINATED. With that domination come confidence. Confidence and lesser competition made some future mediocre NBA players into full-fledged college superstars.

              Yes, it may not have turned him into a better player in the NBA, but it could have made him into a superstar for the last 4 years. Not a guarantee of stardom, but a much better chance than playing garbage minutes for a 20 win Suns team for 3 years.

              • jump shot

                Just Bender – or everybody who plays against Stephen F. Austin and Pepperdine?

              • Great takes. Love it. Especially the point about confidence, you’re right about that.

                • hiflew

                  I appreciate that. I love talking basketball with you because even if we are polar opposite in our arguments, you never resort to personal attacks. I try to stay above the fray as well, but I have occasionally sunk to the level of the person I am arguing with. It’s a flaw a need to work on for sure.

      • x%sure

        The hidden point there is probably that Bender could have used US college time to get better prepared and have some fun. Bender is not a dominator; maybe he could have been. He just turned out very tall— and stuck at prospect level.

        I rank Toppin #1. It’s an interesting question if Toppin would be anything at all NBA-wise if he didn’t go to Dayton. Some people use that to dismiss him and say a better selection would be someone from the Wildcats who was good from the getgo. Toppin’s ability to become a perimeter threat just since the NBA evaluation a year ago suggests to me he can late-bloom, not that the last year was a fluke.

        The Kentucky path did work for Tyler Herro, but he looked disappointing while there.
        Fun fact I ran into (if true): Calipari has had 29 NBA firstround picks in 11 years there— and none have won an NBA title! He has a number of players still in it though this year.

        • jump shot

          I agree. Toppin is probably the best player in the draft today. His age has been looked at as a negative, but hell, teams should be more worried about getting somebody ready to contribute today rather than 4 years from now anyway. If I’m a coach (hired to be fired), I want to draft somebody that’s gonna help me win right now!

          • Until he has to play defense. Can’t guard the wing too slow, can’t guard the post too small no strength.

        • hiflew

          There have been several players that were somewhat disappointing at UK that blossomed in the NBA. Bam Adebayo is the first to pop into my mind. But Devin Booker is another. Sometimes it is hard for players to stand out when they are onstage with other ultra-talented individuals.

          EJ Montgomery is one in this year’s draft class that comes to mind. I believe he should have returned to UK, but he still has a ton of talent if he goes to the right situation.

          As far as the titles go, you have to remember that the players from UK have been drafted near the top of the draft which means they have been picked by the worst teams in the league for the most part. Very few UK players last until the 20s where the good teams pick. I can only think of a handful. It also doesn’t help matters that teams like Phoenix, Sacramento, Charlotte, and New Orleans are the main teams drafting Wildcats.

        • It probably really helps to be the best player and go to guy at a smaller School then to be “one of the guys” at a huge School. But the scouts know this and can spot Talent. Devin Booker came off the bench at Kentucky but he was still drafted very high.

          • hiflew

            It depends on what you are looking for. What you are saying was definitely true for a Buddy Hield. If he has gone to Kansas, he would have been lost in the shuffle of McDonald’s All Americans. But at Oklahoma he was able to play a similar schedule while being the man and really working out well.

            However, while playing at a UK or Duke, it can also get you viewed by scouts looking at your teammates. If you go to Minnesota or Vanderbilt or Arizona State, then you might have a handful of games where there are TV cameras or scouts present. You better hope you don’t have a bad day when they are there.

            But if you go to Duke or Kentucky, you are on ESPN at least once a week and there is probably not a single game played that doesn’t have several scouts present. You have more scrutiny, but you also have more margin for error.

  3. Only 22. I don’t think he’s done in the nba yet but he’s got a lotttt of work to do.

    • You can’t learn speed and quickness. He doesn’t shoot it well enough yet to make up for those deficiencies. You can get right up on him and not have to worry about him going around you.

  4. arc89

    In the NBA he is a bench player so of course he signs with a team he can start everyday. Still young enough to improve and get back to the NBA.

    • In the NBA.., he’s not in the NBA. In one of the Euro leagues yes he starts and plays. His best case scenario was Dario Saric. Same size, same strength, same weight, same lack of quickness, same lack of Defense. But Saric has an offensive game and can shoot. I actually like Dario and would love him on my team. The guy can shoot the Rock and was great with the Sixers for a couple of years when he was younger.

      • x%sure

        Sixers let Saric ramble. If he was still there, they would not have gotten Butler, but they would also not have Horford. And Butler left anyway.

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