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Ranking all of Steph’s teammates: #68 — Dragan Bender

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Might we see him again next year?

Philadelphia 76ers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

On June 25, 2009, the Golden State Warriors drafted Steph Curry. Ten years and 16 days later, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. With that move, Curry moved to second in the NBA for longest tenure with his current team. The only player he sits behind is Udonis Haslem, though that feels like a technicality. At this point, Haslem is essentially an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, having appeared in just 43 games and played fewer than 300 minutes over the last four seasons combined.

During his time in the Bay Area, Curry has had 106 teammates who have appeared in at least one game. Some played in exactly one game, while others played in hundreds. Some never actually played in a game that Curry was active for, while others formed historically great partnerships with him.

And I’m ranking all 106 over the course of a few months.

Players are ranked — and stats are shown — based only on their time as Curry’s teammate. How good/bad they were in other organizations doesn’t matter. How good/bad they were on pre-2009-10 Warriors teams doesn’t matter.

To see all of the rankings thus far, you can click on the “Ranking Steph’s teammates” tag at the top of the article.


#68 — Dragan Bender

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Jed Jacobsen/NBAE via Getty Images

Games: 9 (T-89th out of 106)
Points per game: 9.0 (T-29th out of 106)
Rebounds per game: 5.9 (12th out of 106)
Assists per game: 2.1 (T-26th out of 106)

Dragan Bender’s per-game stats are pretty nice, and suggest that maybe he should be ranked a bit higher than where I put him.

In reality, it’s more a matter of circumstance than anything. Bender was one of Golden State’s many 10-day contract signings towards the end of the 2019-20 season, when they traded six players (D’Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans III), and received just one (Andrew Wiggins). The result was a roster that lacked the minimum number of players, and on came a rush of 10-day contracts, including a few to Bender.

So the stats are more a representation of the fact that he got to play 21.7 minutes per night for a bad team than anything else.

That’s not to say Bender was bad. More than anything, he was raw — the result of being just 22 years old and never having landed in a stable situation, despite it being his fourth season in the league.

His three-point shot — one of the most intriguing things the 7-footer has to offer — didn’t fall in the small sample size, as he hit on just 32.4% of them. That made for a true-shooting percentage of 53.4%, a below-average mark. Below average offensive efficiency is certainly not what anyone wants out of a big man.

But there was a lot to like. A capable shooter from distance (even if the numbers weren’t great over a nine-game period) is something the Warriors have never been able to pair with Steph Curry. Bender’s passing was phenomenal for a player his size, and something that at times opened up a new dynamic to the Dubs offense. There were strong defensive instincts, even if the overall impact on that end of the court wasn’t good.

The Warriors have expressed interest in keeping Bender for 2020-21, and if that ends up happening, he could move substantially up this list. He has a ton of talent; it’s just a matter of making it effective. And getting some run alongside an all-time great point guard like Curry could help that value materialize.

But if he doesn’t end up back in the Bay Area — and the Warriors are in a bit of a pickle, since they’re already committed to Kevon Looney, Marquese Chriss, and Alen Smailagic — hopefully Dubs fans remember him for his stellar performance in the team’s final game of the season.

Poll

What do you think of Dragan Bender’s ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    He was better than #68
    (59 votes)
  • 27%
    #68 is about right
    (31 votes)
  • 19%
    He was worse than #68
    (22 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now