NBA Rumors: Lakers, Sixers pressured to pick the ‘next Kristaps Porzingis’ Dragan Bender

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Dragan Bender (Photo courtesy: Botend/Wikimedia Commons)

NBA rumors of the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers picking either Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons are normal with the top two prospects the favorites to become NBA superstars in the next generation.

However, with the presence of Croatian Dragan Bender, who is seen by many NBA experts as the “next Kristaps Porzingis”, in the 2016 NBA Draft, teams like the Lakers and Sixers are thinking twice if picking him ahead of Ingram or Simmons would be a good idea.

“Dragan is more advanced at his age than Kristaps Porzingis was when he was 18. Dragan has great length, and he can block shots. He can run the floor, and his ability to finish at the rim is exceptional. His shot is getting better all the time. On defense, he has the ability to guard the 4 or the 5. He needs to gain weight and strength, but his potential is jaw-dropping,” an NBA scout said via Bleacher Report, which did a profile on Bender.

The article also claims that Mitch Kupchak, the general manager for the Lakers, was impressed with Bender when he scouted him a few months ago. However, with the second overall pick, Kupchak and the Lakers have now to study hard if they are going with either Ingram or Simmons or risk with the 18-year-old Bender.

Same case in Philadelphia where they own the top pick, which is also linked to some NBA rumors. Simmons and Ingram could complete their starting five but getting the “next Kristaps Porzingis” is also not a bad option.

According to DraftExpress, Bender has a $1.3 million buyout with his current European club Maccabi Tel Aviv and whoever drafts can easily afford the buyout amount to bring him over to the NBA next season. has this scouting report on Bender:

“Strengths: Versatile player, who can play both forward positions and occasionally at Center, although for now is considered a power forward… Has all the necessary elements to become a prototypical stretch 4, if he continues to improve.”

“Weaknesses: Not a great athlete … Limited leaping ability … Not explosive enough to play as a wing at the next level … At time he looks like a perimeter player trapped in a big man’s body … Stronger players can bully him on the post on both ends of the floor … Has to bulk up to play at the next level, and appears to have a naturally skinny bodytype.”

With Dragan Bender seen as the “next Kristaps Porzingis” will the Lakers or Sixers take the risk and draft him first or second overall as per the latest NBA rumors? Or will the teams drafting after Philadelphia and Los Angeles be lucky in landing the Croatian in the 2016 NBA Draft?

Photo courtesy: Botend/Wikimedia Commons

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