The Phoenix Suns have signed 2016 NBA Draft acquisitions Dragan Bender (fourth overall pick), Marquese Chriss (eighth overall) and Tyler Ulis (34th overall).
All three will make their Suns debuts as members of Phoenix’s entry at NBA Summer League 2016 in Las Vegas. Bender, Chriss, Ulis and the Suns begin Summer League action on Saturday at 1 p.m. (Phoenix time) against the Portland Trail Blazers at Cox Pavilion; the game will be broadcast on NBA TV and ESPN3.
Bender, a skilled and versatile playmaker at 7-1, 225 pounds, played the 2015-16 season with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League. Only 17 years old at the start of the season, Bender averaged 5.5 points on 47.9 percent shooting and 41.1 percent from three-point range in 13.4 minutes over 25 games in Israel’s top-tier league. Combining shooting range, passing vision and the ability to defend multiple positions, Bender was the youngest player in the 2016 NBA Draft and the first international player not to play college basketball selected at fourth overall. He also became the first Croatian ever to be a top-four selection in the NBA Draft.
Chriss, an explosive athlete and efficient shooter at 6-10, 233 pounds, averaged 13.7 points on 53.0 percent shooting from the field and 35.0 percent from three-point territory, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 34 games during his one season at Washington in 2015-16. An Honorable Mention Pac-12 All-Freshman selection, Chriss recorded 55 blocks to lead Pac-12 freshmen and set a Huskies freshman record. The fourth-youngest player selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, Chriss was one of just eight players and the only freshman in college basketball last season to average at least 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting at least 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range.
Ulis, a quick and confident floor general at 5-10, 150 pounds, was named the SEC Player of the Year by the coaches and media after averaging 17.3 points, 7.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 35 games for Kentucky in 2015-16. A tenacious on-ball defender, Ulis also became just the second player in league history to win SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Player of the Year in the same season, joining Anthony Davis who did so in 2011-12. Ulis was also honored following the 2015-16 season as the recipient of the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard.