This offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks signed former 4th overall pick, Dragan Bender to a two-year deal. At only 22-years-old and the Bucks already having enough big men on their roster, fans knew Bender was more of a project than a consistent contributor. It was only a matter of time before the Bucks moved Bender to their G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, and the results have been more than promising.
So far, since being assigned to the Herd, Bender has played and started in 7 games. In those games, he has averaged 19.7 points per game on 50% shooting and 39% shooting from three on nearly 6 attempts per game. Bender is also adding 9.1 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 blocks in 28.7 minutes. He has shown incredible efficiency and the ability to score no matter where he is on the court. These were the very things he was drafted so high for in 2016.
After watching Bender’s Herd highlights, there were a few things that really jumped off the screen. First off, he looks like a man among boys on the court. Bender is already 7’1” which makes him taller than almost everybody else in the G-League but he also looks much stronger. He’s pulling down rebounds among four others as well as attacking the basket stronger than ever before. Another aspect of Bender’s game that has looked very impressive, is the speed at which he’s been playing. Even at 7’1” he just looks faster than everybody else on the court, as if the game moves slower for him than everybody else. Finally, Bender is playing without hesitation. When he gets the ball, he looks confident in the move he’s going to make or the shot he’s going to take.
The best thing about Bender’s success, is just that, his success. When an NBA player is sent down to the G-League to work on their game and they dominate, it shows they still have NBA talent. It shows that the G-League competition is not up to their speed and that the NBA is the only logical next step. The Bucks will most likely keep Bender with the Herd the majority of the season to work on his craft. However, next season, if he plays like he has been with the Herd, Dragan Bender could provide Milwaukee with a stretch four who is a huge contributor off the bench.