Legendary NBA shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo was famous for wagging his finger at opponents who dared challenge him at the rim. He whipped out the trademark gesture when Phoenix Suns big man Dragan Bender swatted a ball in the seat next to him in a recent Summer League game against the Dallas Mavericks.
SportsCenter provided the raw video of Bender destroying Jalen Jones’ attempted layup, almost hitting Mutombo in the process:
Deke brings such a positive spirit to the atmosphere, and once averaged as many as 4.5 blocks in a season during the 1995-96 campaign with the Denver Nuggets. So getting his seal of approval is no small feat for Bender.
The Suns would love to see more of this out of their 2016 No. 4 overall draft pick. Head coach Igor Kokoskov explained recently why Bender was suiting up for this summer’s squad.
“We’re going to challenge him. I think it’s good for him,” said Kokoskov, per Arizona Sports’ Jordan Kaye. “He’s a very talented young player and we need him more. That’s why he’s playing Summer League, to add even more experience to his game.”
It’s not ideal in the first place that Bender is playing Summer League ball ahead of his third NBA season, but he needs a confidence boost any way he can get it.
Bender was just 2-of-7 shooting in Phoenix’s 92-85 win, and is shooting a horrendous 37.8 percent overall in his first two years as a pro. That is awful for someone over seven feet tall.
If he’s meant to live up to his draft billing and be a prominent part of the Suns’ future, Bender will have to keep making defensive plays like he did in Phoenix’s Summer League opener and be a far more efficient scorer.