Ben­der, Ran­dle face long odds in bids to stick

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTS - By Con­nor Le­tourneau With the War­riors’ 2019­20 sea­son of­fi­cially done, The Chron­i­cle has been re­view­ing how each player fared. Con­nor Le­tourneau cov­ers the War­riors for The San Francisco Chron­i­cle. Email: cle­tourneau@ sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @Con_chron

Cen­ter Dra­gan Ben­der and guard Chas­son Ran­dle joined the War­riors with de­signs on par­lay­ing 10­day con­tracts into long­term NBA roles. But when the league sus­pended play March 11 to help cur­tail the spread of the coro­n­avirus, the au­di­tions for Ben­der and Ran­dle were cut short.

With the War­riors not among the 22 teams plan­ning to re­sume the sea­son in Or­lando, Ben­der and Ran­dle must wait to hear whether they’ll be in­vited to Golden State’s sum­mer mini­camp in late July or early Au­gust. That would offer them an­other chance to show they de­serve a shot at the 2020­21 ros­ter.

Be­cause be­fore the NBA shut­down ar­rived, Ben­der and Ran­dle prob­a­bly didn’t do enough.

Ben­der, a 2016 top­five pick who tried to re­sus­ci­tate his ca­reer with the War­riors after Phoenix didn’t re­sign him and Mil­wau­kee waived him, is one of the more frus­trat­ing case stud­ies for scouts: a 7­footer with the di­men­sions and skills of an All­star who strug­gles to make an im­print on games.

Though Ben­der has a text­book jump shot, he is a ca­reer 39.9% shooter (32.3% from 3point range). His size and agility sug­gest that he should be a ver­sa­tile de­fender. But far too of­ten, Ben­der looks over­whelmed against quicker wings or big­ger cen­ters.

Th­ese same is­sues plagued him with the War­riors, who brought him in to see whether he could be the floor­spac­ing big man they needed. In nine games, Ben­der av­er­aged 9 points on 43.7% shoot­ing (32.4% from 3­point range), 5.9 re­bounds, 2.1 as­sists and 1.8 turnovers in 21.7 min­utes.

The War­riors were in­trigued enough to sign him to a sec­ond 10­day con­tract March 5, but his in­ef­fec­tive stretches over­shad­owed any high­lights he de­liv­ered. Ben­der sim­ply isn’t as far along as he should be for some­one who would be en­ter­ing his fifth NBA sea­son.

Un­like Ben­der, Ran­dle didn’t get much op­por­tu­nity to find a rhythm in the War­riors’ move­ment­heavy sys­tem. Fresh off flee­ing China when the coro­n­avirus shut down the coun­try’s top league, he ap­peared timid in lim­ited min­utes, un­sure when to pass and when to shoot.

In his three games with Golden State, Ran­dle missed all four of his shots. It didn’t help his cause that, at 6­2, 185 pounds, he of­ten had a tough time stay­ing in front of big­ger guards.

Per­haps the big­gest re­gret for Ben­der and Ran­dle was that they didn’t get at least one more game to prove they be­long at this level. For play­ers on 10­day con­tracts, one mem­o­rable per­for­mance can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a mil­lion­dol­lar NBA con­tract and a $35,000 deal in the G League.

Off­sea­son out­look: To make next sea­son’s ros­ter, Ben­der and Ran­dle would have to im­press at mini­camp be­fore beat­ing out sev­eral play­ers un­der con­tract for next sea­son — Juan Toscano­an­der­son, Ky Bow­man and My­chal Mul­der, among oth­ers — for a 15­man spot. That seems highly un­likely.

At this point, the War­riors could be bet­ter off us­ing their last cou­ple of mini­camp spots to get an ex­tended look at other play­ers. Ger­ald Green, Jor­dan Bell and Justin An­der­son are among the in­trigu­ing free agents avail­able.

John Leyba / As­so­ci­ated Press

For­mer Stan­ford guard Chas­son Ran­dle was play­ing in China be­fore flee­ing the coro­n­avirus there. He ap­peared in three games with the War­riors, scor­ing five points — all on free throws.

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