Dragan Bender is a Croatian teenager who won’t turn age 18 until November 17, 2015, about five weeks from now. And yet, at his obviously very young age, this 7 foot, 215 pound Power Forward is considered one of Europe’s best prospects, someone who will likely be a “top Five” selection for the National Basketball Association (NBA) teams in 2016.
That, of course, is several months away, actually in the summer of 2016. But European players have become very desirable to America’s professional basketball teams, probably because they have already played professionally, in European basketball leagues.
That is certainly true for Dragan Bender. He is a member of Maccabi Tel Aviv, a top squad in one of the best European basketball leagues. And Bender, even at age 17, is considered a superior player by European sportswriters and, more importantly, NBA scouts.
This young man, while standing seven feet tall, likes to play from the perimeter. He is effective playing on the outside because of his great shooting skills. Bender’s range extends to the three-point line and beyond. His shooting style is fluid which helps his accuracy.
Bender, although still just a teenager, has been playing on “big stages” for several years. He was a member of the U16 (under age 16 team) for Croatia in 2012 and performed very well, gaining recognition and approval from scouts “on both sides of the pond.”
And, while Bender will never play for an American college, he will be joining college seniors and juniors who “declare” for the NBA draft in 2016. As noted earlier, he is expected to be a Top Five selection or, as fans of the NBA know, a “Lottery Pick.”
His height and developing skills make him very desirable to professional squads. In fact, Dragan Bender has been compared, favorably, to Dirk Nowitzki and to Kristaps Porzingis, a first year player for the New York Knickerbockers.
Of course, scouts, and Bender himself, agree that he needs to add more weight and strength in order to be an effective player in the NBA.
But Dragan Bender is still just a teenager. He is still growing and is sure to add muscle and weight. European players have been making positive contributions to NBA teams for the past two decades. As any fan of American professional basketball knows, some of the best players come from Europe, particularly eastern Europe.
There is every reason to believe that Dragan Bender will be playing in the National Basketball Association in 2016 and for many years after that. As someone who is still so young, but already highly skilled and capable, he is likely to become a very productive and important player for the team that gets lucky and is able to draft and sign him.
The sky’s the limit for this promising basketball player.
image courtesy of zimbio.com