NBA Rumors: Celtics To Draft Dragan Bender With No 3 Pick

The Boston Celtics are expected to draft Croatian sensation Dragan Bender with the No. 3 overall pick in next month’s NBA Draft, according to several sources close to the organization.


Bender, viewed as the Kristaps Porzingis of this draft class, is expected to work out with Boston ahead of the draft on June 23. Last week, Celtics GM Danny Ainge hinted on Toucher & Rich that the team would consider drafting the 7-footer who has wowed scouts with his ability to handle the ball and shoot the ball like a guard.

Danny Ainge swinging for the fences

“I’m excited about the No. 3 pick. I would have been excited about it (on lottery) night — if you’d have told me before the night started that, ‘Hey, you’re going to get the No. 3 pick,’ I’d have been very happy with that. There for one minute I let my mind drift, like, ‘Hey, we may get the No. 1 pick or the No. 2 pick.’ But No. 3 is fine. We’re excited about that,” Ainge told WBZ TV on Sunday.

NBA Trade Rumors: Boston, Philadelphia Discuss No. 3 Pick?

Veteran Celtics reporter Gary Tanguay has made a strong case for Bender to be drafted ahead of Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown, Jamaal Murray and Kevin Dunn. “There’s just no one else in this draft with Bender’s upside. Buddy Hield is a 22-year-old shooting guard who completely disappeared in the NCAA championship game. He has a shot to be a very good NBA player, but he won’t transform the organization. Neither would Jamal Murray from Kentucky. Nor Kris Dunn from Providence,” Tanguay wrote on

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Celtics could unearth next Nowitzki

According to Tanguay, the 18-year-old Bender would take a few years to develop into a legitimate NBA star. “Take Bender, Danny,” Tanguay urged the Celtics GM. “In two years this guy may have gained 15 to 20 pounds of muscle, learned the rigors on and off the court of the NBA, and look like the next Porzingis, Or Dirk Nowitzki or Porzingis. Then use the other two Brooklyn first-round picks, and the Celtics could be back on their way to greatness.”

Incidentally, Ainge has said that the team is willing to invest in a raw talent with upside. Expect the Celtics to draft Dragan Bender on June 23 unless a team comes calling with an attractive trade offer.

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