Sun Splash: Insiders Talk Bender, Chriss

Arizona Sports News online

It may have long been considered the great debate: Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss?

It took about 10 minutes for Phoenix Suns’ general manager Ryan McDonough to close that chapter. After selecting Bender with the fourth overall pick McDonough landed Chriss from Sacramento who essentially drafted the Washington big man for Phoenix.

Both players, along with last year’s first-round pick Devin Booker, give the 59-loss Suns a trio of foundation-builders under the age of 20.

Planet Orange has already seen what Booker can do, finishing fourth in the Rookie of Year voting after averaging just under 14 points a game. But what about the Suns’ newest top eight picks?

“Chriss is one of those guys who looks like…in three or four years the type of player you could build your team around,” long-time CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg told Thursday. “Chriss really impressed me…tremendous upside.”

The six-foot-ten, 235-pound Chriss is an active defender with nice range on his jump shot but fouled out of far too many games last season at the University of Washington.

Some believe the rail-thin seven-foot-one Bender is an even bigger unknown.

“I wonder about his toughness,” Sporting News college basketball insider Mike DeCourcy said in a recent phone interview. “I wonder about how hard he’ll go for 82 games. Those are things that I worry about with him but in terms of his skill and his size: good athleticism. I think he’s got a lot of good qualities and given that the draft itself is not overwhelmingly gifted it’s hard to go wrong with a guy who has the package that he does.”

McDonough has chosen his path to rebuild. Suns’ fans are hoping the structure remains strong.