Brew Hoop readers looked outside the United States for the #4 pick on their 2016 Draft Board, selecting Dragan Bender - PF, International. Bender is an 18 year old Croatian who has played professionally in Israel for each of the last two seasons.
Bender has been eyed by the NBA for quite some time, in contrast to certain other international prospects who burst on the scene rather late in the game while killing time in sparsely-populated gyms. The what extent this renders him more of a "known quantity" depends on the current quality of the NBA's international scouting, but this much is certain: Bender won't slide in this draft for a lack of name recognition.
Standing 7'1" with a 9'3" standing reach, Bender has size in spades for his nominal PF position. A skilled, somewhat perimeter-oriented big man everyone is racing to compare to breakout rookie Kristaps Porzingis, Bender wasn't exactly featured in his professional seasons in Israel, but his skillset was reasonably apparent. Bender's shooting has improved significantly, both statistically and in the eyes of scouts, and he's arguably a better defensive prospect than most big men his age, thanks in large part to his perimeter defensive skills. We've seen lengthy defenders who can move their feet lock--or at the very least slow down some of the most devastating scorers in the league. Bender probably won't be checking point guards anytime soon, but against another versatile, athletic wing or big, he certainly looks capable of holding his own.
Bender's weaknesses mimic other young players to a large extent. He's foul-prone thanks to poor discipline and trouble holding ground in the post. Perhaps more unexpectedly, he's also not a great rebounder at this point, owing as much to his thin frame as anything else (At this point you may check the "needs to add strength" box on your Prospect Bingo Card. It's the one right in the middle that says "FREE SPACE."). For all his coverage leading into this draft season, though, Bender's biggest knock remain the uncertainty of projecting a non-featured European teenager into the NBA. That worry may be enough to scare off the top few teams, but the reward side of the risk-reward equation will grow rapidly as the draft moves along.
2016 Brew Hoop Community Draft Board
1. Ben Simmons - F, LSU - DraftExpress Profile
2. Brandon Ingram - SF, Duke - DraftExpress Profile
3. Jamal Murray - G, Kentucky - DraftExpress Profile
4. Dragan Bender - PF, International - DraftExpress Profile