The Phoenix Suns are declining the fourth-year option on Dragan Bender, meaning the former No. 4 pick can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Bender, who was a lottery selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, can still re-sign with the organization during the offseason. But the news today makes his value an interesting topic, considering he will likely hit the open market as either a trade chip or in free agency. Despite being a poor offensive presence near the rim for someone his size, he has shown he is a solid shooter.
Last season, the 7-foot-1 big man averaged 1.13 points per possession on jump shots. This ranked Top 20 among all forwards (minimum: 100 possessions) last season. He averaged 1.18 PPP on jumpers from three-point range, which finished in the 80th percentile among everyone in the NBA.
Bender has proven himself as an above-average three-point shooter, especially on non-corner shots from long range. The Phoenix big connected on 87-of-239 (36.4 percent) of these attempts, which ranked Top 10 among second-year players (minimum: 85 attempts) last season.
Most often used as a spot-up shooter, he was fairly effective on his catch-and-shoot opportunities for Phoenix. He averaged 1.15 PPP on this play type, which was in the 75th percentile.
Unfortunately for his development, however, Bender has struggled quite a bit on jump shots off the dribble. The former lottery pick is shooting just 6-for-22 (27.2 percent) on jump shots off the dribble since coming into the league, per Synergy.
It’s no promise that this aspect of his game will ever improve. But the 20-year-old is still very young and if a shooting coach sees his potential, he would still be worth taking a flier on moving forward in this league. No team can ever have too many solid shooters.