With Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver recently admitting that the team is still hoping to add a starting-caliber point guard, Fansided blog Sir Charles in Charge recommended one theoretical deal that could work for the team — trading third-year forward Dragan Bender to the Atlanta Hawks for veteran Jeremy Lin.
In an interview with 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, Sarver said the point guard position is “definitely at the top of the list” as the team reaches the “end of a rebuild” and starts trying to win more games. Last season, the Suns finished at last place in the Western Conference, winning only 21 games and losing 61, while giving minutes to the likes of Tyler Ulis and Elfrid Payton at point guard. With Ulis and Payton moving to Golden State and New Orleans respectively in the 2018 offseason, the Suns’ point guard rotation now has Isaiah Canaan, Shaquille Harrison, and rookies De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo expected to compete for minutes.
Considering the lack of star power at point guard, Sir Charles in Charge suggested that the Suns could trade for Jeremy Lin, who will be entering his ninth NBA season with career averages of 12 points and 4.5 assists per game. The publication wrote that swapping Lin for Dragan Bender could work for both teams, as Lin provides the experience at point guard that the Suns currently lack, while Bender could help the Atlanta Hawks as a potential upgrade over the “internal options” they have as they search for a power forward who could shoot from outside.
While Lin will be coming back from an injury-shortened 2017-18 campaign where he played just one game for the Brooklyn Nets, Bender, who was picked by the Suns at fourth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, appears to be “regressing” as he prepares to suit up for his third NBA season, Bright Side of the Sun opined.
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Despite playing the second-most total minutes on the Suns, Bender averaged only 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in the 2017-18 season and failed to impress in Summer League and preseason play under new head coach Igor Kokoskov, per Bright Side of the Sun. But even with those challenges in mind, the site stressed that Bender, who will be turning 21-years-old in November, still has a lot of potential to grow as a player.
“Bender profiles as the ideal modern NBA forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, quick feet, good shooting form (37 percent last year on threes), passing ability (1.6 assists per game last year) and work ethic.”
Further commenting on why the recommended Jeremy Lin/Dragan Bender trade could work, Sir Charles in Charge wrote that Bender could allow second-year Hawks center John Collins to focus on his strong points as an inside player. Collins, who averaged 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in the 2017-18 season, has failed to sink a single three-pointer in preseason play while being used by Atlanta as a stretch big man.