Should the Pelicans select Dragan Bender?
Kevin: I'll say no. I won't be terribly upset if they do, but from what I've seen he is well-rounded, but may never be spectacular. Those three guards seem to have a cleaner path to being impact players in the NBA. Also, he plays the same position as our best player and we should be looking to fill other holes. If the Pelicans do draft Bender, I think they should then trade away Holiday and Evans in order to do a total rebuild. He's more of a tear down the roster kind of prospect. I think we have a superstar and a great compliment so I'm not in favor of this team shaping strategy right now.
Joseph: No. My logic on this is pretty simple. I have Bender as my 7th best prospect in this draft. The Pelicans have the 6th pick in the draft, which means that I inherently think there will be a superior draft pick on the board no matter what happens.
I don't know much about Bender but what I have heard and read has really raised the red flags. This is one of the weakest Euro classes in a while. Bender doesn't have any "Holy Sh*t" skill. He has a passive attitude. Combine that with all the hype to find the next Porzingis, and I will pass.
Isaac: Probably not. Dragan Bender's the classic case of a player's draft stock soaring due to another player, in this case Bender as the beneficiary of Kristaps Porzingis's NBA cameo. And my little birds (people I follow on Twitter) won't stop chirping of Bender being only more NBA-ready than Porzingis. He could be, and he could be great. But I don't necessarily like the epistemology of "if it worked once, it will work again."
Sometimes, the membrane that separates successful NBA players from horrible busts is so intricate that picking out the differences between the two seems tough. I don't know much about Dragan Bender. I know he seems a lot like Kristaps Porzingis. And I know he seems a lot like Andrea Bargnani. New Orleans is a great music city, but "Since U Been Gone" isn't a tune for my basketball tastes. Excuse my skepticism, but this is a pick that the Pelicans need to get right and Bender is too much of a lottery for a lottery pick for a city clinging to its team and franchise player.
David: Dragan Bender for the Pelicans is the most interesting question this draft can ask. Selecting him demonstrates a long view and patience few fans believe remains in the front office. There is tantalizing potential in that enormous frame of his. He's no Kristaps Porzingis, as Oleh clearly outlined in his prospect profile. Imagine, instead, a taller Toni Kukoc who can also play above average defense. Kukoc was a critical component to some of the greatest NBA teams we have ever seen. In his prime, Kukoc could have done more than the 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists he put up for Chicago but why ask when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were on the same roster? A do-it-all forward alongside Anthony Davis that can also defend? Sign me up.
On the other end, let's not act as if his ceiling (or that of any prospect) is guaranteed; there is real risk that he falls flat. Weight and strength needed may not come, patience in an already impatient organization slims further, and Bender's development falters. He's not yet 19, younger by nearly a year than Anthony Davis before he was drafted.
In a way, though, the experience with Davis gives me hope for Bender. The franchise was patient, the coaching superb (and Kevin Hanson remains on the staff), and the weight gain methodical. Bender is a high stakes bet, but one worth taking. If he pans out and Anthony Davis stays in New Orleans beyond this next contract, an entirely new "modern NBA" could be created in the Crescent City.
Quentin: If Bender is there at 6, the Pelicans have to take him, right? We call Bender this mystery, but you can find games of his on YouTube, watching him do things on the defensive side of the ball that very few players in the league can duplicate. That matters because at the very worst, it means you can keep him on the floor in a role that was meant for Omer Asik. The idea of putting a versatile defender alongside Davis is enticing, too; those two could switch on nearly any assignment, giving a team like the Golden State Warriors fits because it would nullify the amount of mismatches.
Bender is the clear number three guy in this class, and if he falls to six, the Pelicans have to take him.
Oleh: Ahh, the difficult to quantity European. Dragan Bender has been compared to a host of players, ranging from Jan Vesely to Kristaps Porzingis to his childhood idol, Toni Kukoc. Although scouting methods and data collection have improved immensely in recent years, there remain too many influential opinions that have failed to do their homework because the answer is quite straightforward -- he's well worth an early lottery selection -- and the Pelicans would be extremely fortunate if he's available at the sixth selection.
By the time the next season gets underway, Bender will still be 18 years old. For most of his career, he has competed against players who have been significantly older than him. Yet, he's always held his own and his numbers extrapolate well. His talents are evident to the those willing to take the time to watch so it's high time everyone gets on the same page. Bender possesses the quickness, skills and intelligence to fare well in the NBA, but it's his length and versatility that will ensure success. Modern NBA rules have breathed new life into tweeners, versatile players who only needed a chance to prove their lack of length was not a hindrance. Bender represents the next evolution: maintaining the enviable versatility without needing to sacrifice height and reach.
Fernando: I do not want the Pelicans to select Bender at all because I think it's too much of a chance and project. They need an immediate hit with this pick. Bender has a lot of questions, not to mention he plays the same position as the Pelicans franchise superstar. I know positions don't matter, but both Bender and AD don't defend well against bigger guys so how can the defense ever prosper with them on the court at the same time?