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Dragan Bender getting close to return for Suns

The league's youngest team is about to get even younger as Dragan Bender is set to return for the Phoenix Suns.

NBA: New York Knicks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Thought the Suns had already gone as young as possible these last few weeks, including making their mark with the youngest starting lineup in league history?

Think again.

Some time over the new few games, the 4th overall pick in the 2016 Draft and league’s youngest player will re-join the league’s youngest team for a few games before summer break starts.

And boy oh boy is he needed. The Suns have been trotting out 8 and 9-man rotations due to injuries and “rest” of many of the team’s roster players.

“This week hopefully, barring no injuries,” coach Earl Watson said on Thursday.

GM Ryan McDonough hoped he could play four or five of the last six games.

Bender will join the league’s youngest playing rotation with Jared Dudley as the only veteran in the lineup lately. Leandro Barbosa and Ronnie Price have nursed lingering tweaks, while Tyson Chandler, Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe are all ruled out for “rest” to finish the season.

Now, the Suns starting lineup is younger than 15 of the 16 teams from last weekend’s NCAA Tournament quarter finals. Tyler Ulis (21), Devin Booker (20), T.J. Warren (23), Marquese Chriss (19) and Alex Len (19) are the Suns leaders, with Dudley (31), Derrick Jones Jr. (20) and Alan Williams (24) coming off the bench. Jones has started a few games while Warren and Booker nursed small injuries.

Now Bender gets to join the mix.

I’d love it if he could get a start next to Chriss on the front line, with Jones, Booker and Ulis. That would be the new youngest starting lineup in league history, averaging just TWENTY YEARS OLD.

Bender suffered a bone spur in his ankle in January, just a few games after bursting onto the scene with one of the most versatile stat lines in league history for a teenager.

On December 26, Bender became the youngest player in 18 years to post 11+ points, 13+ rebounds, 3+ steals and 2+ blocks in a single game.

But he’s missed the Suns last 25 games, and 29 of 30 overall, with a tweaked ankle later diagnosed as a bone spur.

Once he can get some court time with his teammates in practice, he should be good to go for the final two weeks of the season.

For those who’ve forgotten what Bender brings to the table, here’s a highlight vid I found on youtube.

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