It was reported that the Suns have offered Eric Bledsoe, Dragan Bender and a first round pick for Kyrie Irving. Here’s why the Cavaliers should jump on that offer.
Though every day seems to bring new Suns-Cavs rumors, each rumor is indeed more reasonable than the last. Today’s news is from Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Cleveland, who is reporting that while Josh Jackson and Devin Booker are still untouchable in the eyes of Suns management, a new package has emerged that seems legit: Eric Bledsoe, Dragan Bender and the Miami Heat’s 2018 first-round draft pick.
The deal makes a lot of sense, and it’s the best offer we’ve seen reported from Cleveland’s perspective, fulfilling the requirements they laid out when Irving became available. Here are the five reasons why the Cavs should do this deal:
5. Dragan Bender is a great prospect
Still only 19-years-old, Bender’s ceiling is as high as the painted roof of the Sistine Chapel. He played only 43 games and 574 minutes as a rookie, barely enough time to get acclimated to the pace and physicality of NBA basketball, let alone develop a style or technique. Last year’s No. 4 overall pick has plenty of room to grow.
Aside from Josh Jackson and Devin Booker, both of whom have been called untouchable by Suns management, Bender is the prospect who most makes sense next to LeBron James. He is a plus playmaker for his position, as well as a potentially elite shooter. He shot only 28.3 percent on 60 wide-open 3-point field goal attempts last season, but has the form and quick release to improve that shot. Players on the court with James have plenty of opportunity to improve their wide-open field goal rate.
Bender also has an assist rate near six percent, which is nice for a rookie who projects to one day play in versatile lineups as a stretch center. Squint the right way, and behind Bender’s stop-and-start rookie season, there’s a version of Kevin Love.
On defense, being a tall person helped Bender quite a bit. His rim protection and defensive rebounding are statistically where they should be after one year in the league, and he kept his fouls in check. What makes Bender stand out on this end, same as on offense, is his versatility:
Someone so young, who can already manage the balancing act of NBA defensive rotations and recover in time to block the shot of a scorer like LaMarcus Aldridge has high value in today’s NBA.