Bender will shift back to a bench role for Wednesday's game against the Pistons, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports.
Bender drew his first start of the season on Tuesday, but struggled severely, going scoreless (0-2 3Pt), with four rebounds and two assists across 23 minutes. That has prompted coach Jay Triano to shift back to Marquese Chriss, who's already started 16 games this season. The Suns are currently dealing with a logjam in the frontcourt and multiple guys have alternated as DNP-CDs, including Alex Len and Greg Monroe. Bender could see a few less minutes off the bench, though the whole situation is likely one to avoid if possible.
Bender will draw the start at power forward for Tuesday's game against the Bulls, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports.
Bender will be making his first start of the season, as the Suns have rolled Marquese Chriss as the starter most of the year, as well as Greg Monroe over the last two games. However, in an effort to get more of a floor spacer working with the top unit, Bender will get the call to join the starting five. Bender will likely see a slight uptick in minutes, but will still have competition for playing time with the likes of Chriss and Monroe, which could limit his overall upside. Monroe heads to the bench in the corresponding move.
Bender totaled 11 points (4-7 FG, 3-4 3Pt), six rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block across 34 minutes in Wednesday's 113-107 overtime loss to the Bucks.
The second-year forward has started to come on, posting all three of his double-digit scoring efforts this season over the past five contests. Bender's minutes total was easily a season high, while his rebound haul was his best since Oct. 28 against the Trail Blazers. The 20-year-old has been a solid source of rebounds all season, but it remains if his recent scoring uptick will endure.
Bender totaled four points (1-7 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2-2 FT), two rebounds, and one assist in 20 minutes during Sunday's 113-105 win over the Bulls.
Bender essentially split time at power forward with starter Marquese Chriss, who finished with eight points, six boards, and three dimes in 21 minutes. With Greg Monroe joining the Suns as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade, Bender shouldn't be expected to see many minutes at center as long as Monroe and Alex Len remain healthy (and on the roster). Nevertheless, rookie Josh Jackson appears to be spending most of his time off the bench at small forward, so Bender isn't being squeezed out of the rotation.
Bender contributed 10 points (4-8 FG, 2-4 3Pt), three rebounds, three assists, and one block in 27 minutes during Tuesday's 122-114 win over the Nets.
Bender finished with a season high in scoring and matched his career high in assists, and he has now seen 20-plus minutes in three straight games while knocking down at least one trey in six consecutive contests. Given that the Suns are on the verge of trading Eric Bledsoe (and maybe Tyson Chandler) and have entered rebuilding mode, it's likely that Bender is set to see ample opportunities to hone his skills for the remainder of the campaign.
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