New Bucks acquisition Dragan Bender explains how his game evolved as a younger player
Former lottery pick Dragan Bender has failed to live up to expectations. After being selected fourth by the Phoenix Suns in 2016, he hasn’t done anything significant in his first three years in the league. He will be given another opportunity to prove himself with the Milwaukee Bucks, which could lead to something good for him.
Prior to his move to the NBA, Bender wasn’t special in his stints in different international leagues. He was decent, but not great. Still, he was able to develop into who he is as a player because he usually talks to the older guys on his team.
In an interview he had with the New York Times back in 2016, Bender said that spending time with veteran players, particularly his brother — who was also a pro basketball player — helped him a lot during his international career.
“I was actually pretty terrible. I was always with the players two years older than me because of my brother. But it helped me a lot because I was the youngest guy, and it helped me understand all these things very fast.”
Being with vets was a luxury Bender didn’t have with the Suns, because they were (and are still) a rebuilding team. Most of the guys he played with were inexperienced youngsters and draft prospects, which made learning difficult.
With the Bucks, he will be surrounded by Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and Kyle Korver, guys who have spent a lot of time in the NBA. Bender will definitely learn a lot from his new teammates, which hopefully could help him break out of the slump. Moreover, he will have the opportunity to play with the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has gained a significant amount of knowledge despite being only 24 years old, still in the evolutionary phase of his immensely promising career.
Bender is just 22, which means a lot can still happen with his career. With the right development, he might be able to turn his career around with the Bucks.
He will have to make the most out of his opportunity in Milwaukee, because it could be his last.