With the New York Knicks absolutely knocking it out the park on the Kristaps Porzingis selection, teams seem to be more interested in investing in foreign superstars, mainly big men. Easier said than done.
The Porzingis pick was met with a lot of scrutinies. A LOT. I was among the critics; I’m not ashamed to admit I was wrong. When the pick was announced, the entire crowd erupted with boos, prompting Porzingis’ famous line about turning those into cheers.
He did, earning a unanimous selection to the All-Rookie First Team; however, most hyped up foreign players don’t turn out so well in the NBA, with the most notable example being Darko Milicic, who was drafted second overall in 2003—before Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony.
Now, one of the big questions of the 2016 NBA Draft is where Dragan Bender will land.
The 18-year-old Croatian with a kick ass name has flown up the charts over the past few months with some mock drafts placing him as early as the third overall pick to the Boston Celtics.
Scouts have been watching the 7’1 kid for about three years now as he played for the Israeli Super League, Eurocup, and Euroleague. The good news is he can shoot. Bender shot 38.5% from beyond the arc in his 33 professional games, and he has a good looking mid-range stroke. He knows how to cut, pass, and move without the ball.
The problem is, he’s not much else. At only 216 pounds, he has a lot of bulking up to do, and he is widely unproven on the big stage. He’s an atrocious rebounder for a 7’1 big man, and there are many unanswered questions about his strength and ability to compete with uber-talented players around his size.
Realistically, Bender has a lot of bust potential, but I don’t see him going any later than fifth or sixth. I’m just hoping the New Orleans Pelicans don’t pick him up, we already have two overpaid, underperforming foreign big men on the roster.