Dragan Bender, the No. 4 pick of the 2016 draft, still dreams of an NBA return, Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net relays.
In an interview with Israel’s One, Bender stated that his ultimate goal is to make it back to the U.S.
“Undoubtedly, I want to return to the NBA down the road,’” he said.
Bender last played in the NBA during the 2019/20 season, appearing in a combined 16 games with Milwaukee and Golden State. He spent his first three seasons with Phoenix, where he never lived up to his draft status. Over 187 games, Bender averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game.
Bender played the 2020/21 season with Maccabi Tel Aviv but suffered an ACL injury in May 2021, which forced him to sit out all of last season.
“I believe you just know something has happened in these situations.” he said. “After the diagnosis, you definitely feel terrible, but it is what it is. I had a great season up to that point. I was playing and then I was out for a year and a half. This is basketball and you must be ready for these kinds of setbacks.”
Bender signed with Monbus Obradoiro over the summer and has excelled during his first seven games in Spain’s Liga Endesa, averaging 20.6 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 58.1% overall and 46.9% on 3-point attempts.
Bender wouldn’t mind playing for Maccabi again before pursuing another NBA opportunity.
“Of course, I would love to return to Maccabi. It is a special club,” he said. “For me, it is more about how the situation unfolds, more about which teams will be aiming to qualify for the playoffs and be championship contenders. Those are the teams I want to be part of.”