Suns pick Bender with 4th overall, reportedly trade for Chriss at No. 8Posted: Updated:
The Phoenix Suns reportedly made a big trade move on draft day along with going international with its first pick.
The team chose Croatian forward Dragan Bender with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
He's 7-foot-1 and is the youngest player in the draft at only 18 years old. He's known as a "stretch" power forward and can shoot the ball off the pick-and-roll.
Some had speculated that the Suns were going to take Washington forward Marquese Chriss at the fourth spot. But instead, they traded for the rights to him.
The Suns reportedly dealt the 13th and the 28th picks, along with the rights to Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, to the Sacramento Kings for the No. 8 pick, which they used to picked Chriss. Bogdanovic was chosen by the Suns in the first round of the 2014 but hasn't signed with the team.
"It was really close between those two guys with the fourth pick," general manager Ryan McDonough said. "We went back and forth on it. They're both tremendous young players. It's really hard to find talented, young big guys."
Multiple experts believe Chriss has one of the highest ceilings in the draft but are concerned about his foul trouble.
Chriss averaged 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots during his freshman year with the Huskies. He set a Washington record for blocks in a single season.
He said he thought that after the Suns chose Bender there was no way he'd be going to Phoenix.
"When they passed on me, I was like, 'aw, man,'" Chriss said. "I really like the organization all around and I respected them for that and I'm truly grateful that they went to that amount of effort to get my on the team."
Bender averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in just under 13 minutes per game for Maccabbi Tel-Aviv.
"I think it's a great thing for the Phoenix organization," Bender said in a conference call, "just to have young guys combined with older guys that can help us to adjust ourselves to the NBA as soon as possible. ... I guess it's going to be even better in the practices to compete against each other every day."
This the second year in a row Phoenix has picked the youngest player in the draft. Devin Booker was 18 when the Suns chose him at No. 13. Bender turns 19 on Nov. 17.
"If he were born six weeks later he would not be eligible for this year's draft," McDonough said. "He's a high school senior. So if you look at him like a high school senior, he's 7-foot-1 barefoot, he's got a 9-foot-3 standing reach, he shoots 36-37 percent from 3."
With their second-round pick Thursday night, the 34th overall, the Suns chose Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis, the SEC player of the year who fell in the draft because he is 5-foot-9. Phoenix now has five guards from Kentucky on its roster.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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