ICYMI: Former 2016 NBA Draft Bust Wants Another Shot

The former No. 4 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft did not come close to living up to expectations after the Phoenix Suns bestowed that lofty lottery pick on him. But Dragan Bender says he still longs for a return to the Association. 

The 25-year-old hasn't played in the NBA since suiting up for 16 games in the 2019-20 season. He returned after that to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Super League, the same team he played with before coming to the NBA. He played four disappointing seasons in North America, mainly with the Suns. 

And while he says his immediate goal is a return to the EuroLeague playoffs, the NBA is the long-term goal. “Of course, I would love to return to Maccabi. It is a special club... (but) Undoubtedly, I want to return to the NBA down the road," said Bender.

Bender tore his ACL in the 2021 EuroLeague playoffs, but he says he's fully healthy now. His recent play with Spain's Obradoiro CAB seems to prove that out.

In eight games, he's averaging 18 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting a blistering 47% from 3-point range. 

In his four NBA seasons, the 7-footer averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting just 39.9% from the field. 

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports