Dragan Bender (born November 17, 1997) is a Croatian professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He stands 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) and plays the power forward and center positions. He was selected by the Suns with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Bender represents the Croatian national team, with experience in the FIBA Europe junior tournaments. Before playing in Israel, he competed with multiple teams in Croatia and in Nikola Vujčić's academy.
Bender was born on November 17, 1997, in Čapljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a city on the Croatian border, and he later moved to Split, Croatia. At 12 years of age, he started playing at Nikola Vujčić's basketball academy as a point guard. Vujčić was a former Maccabi Tel Aviv star and became Bender's guardian. At the academy, Bender became a more versatile player and he "learned how to play all the positions on the court." Bender played there along with his older brother, Ivan, with Bender also playing against guys that were Ivan's age when he first started playing. Bender also played with the KK Split youth teams at this time, and he appeared for the Croatian under-16 national basketball team. He idolized and modeled his game after Toni Kukoč, a former Croatian NBA player, while growing up and watched his old game tape. He mostly watched EuroLeague games but would sometimes tune into the NBA as well. One of his favorite EuroLeague players was Šarūnas Jasikevičius.