Alex Len: Phoenix Suns 2013 NBA Draft profile


Like current Suns center Marcin Gortat, Len is a European-born big man. Another similarity between the two?

They’re the tougher versions of Euro big men that NBA franchises have fallen in love with over the last decade.

Len carries evidence of that in the form of a walking boot, the result of ankle surgery after suffering a stress fracture. As the Washington Post pointed out, such an injury isn’t an immediate occurrence. It gets worse over time, a sign that Len’s standout sophomore year at Maryland came despite playing through pain.

He was painful to his opponents too, inflicting 2.1 blocks per contest in addition to 11.9 points on 53 percent shooting and 7.8 rebounds.

Question marks

Len’s ankle is a big one. It’s unlikely anyone will take a chance on him high in the lottery unless A) the team has exhausted all efforts in ascertaining his path to recovery or B) he slides so far the potential reward outweighs the risk.

As for on-court concerns, speed and stamina have to be somewhere on the list. His numbers are impressive, given that they only came in 26 minutes of playing time per game. He likely wouldn’t get more minutes than that at the pro level, at least right away, but can a guy who wasn’t taxed for long periods of time in college be counted on in the pro level, when rookies constantly talk about the game being “so much faster”?

Without even draft combine tests to go on (again, due to the ankle), it’s impossible to say.


There are two, and they’re related.

1) How well will he bounce back from ankle surgery? Given the Suns’ penchant for turning injury-riddled players into reborn athletes, this may not be as big a concern for Phoenix as with other teams.

2) Once he is healthy, can he develop an NBA frame? He’s long, agile and skilled for now, but, at 7-foot-1 and 255 lean pounds, he needs to put on more muscle to bang with pro big men. Problem is, added weight routinely causes even more problems for big men with feet issues.

Just ask Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

How he would fit with the Suns

If Jermaine O’Neal is out and the Suns keep Marcin Gortat, Len could slide in as a true backup big man, something Markieff Morris struggled with last season. Given their European backgrounds, there’s potential for a better-than-average mentor-student relationship, as well.

If Gortat is used as a trading chip this summer (he’s a productive player and entering the final year of his contract), Len could very well end up being a trial-by-fire starter at the five, though it’s doubtful McDonough would allow that to happen – unless he knows something other GMs and talent evaluators don’t.

Updated draft news

The Suns are bringing in a smorgasbord of high-profile draft talent Wednesday, including Kansas star Ben McLemore, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller and UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad.

Len is also on the list, albeit with the notation that he is injured and will not actually work out. Below is the complete list of prospects at the Suns’ Wednesdays workout:

Player                         Pos.     Ht.       Wt.      Birthdate        College/Country                    Year

Jared Berggren           F          6-10     225      04/02/1990    Wisconsin                               Senior

Rudy Gobert               C         7-2       238      06/26/1992    Saint-Quentin, France                       -

Alex Len **                 C         7-1       255      06/16/1993    Maryland                                Sophomore

Ben McLemore           G         6-4       189      02/11/1993    Kansas                                    Freshman

Shabazz Muhammad            F          6-6       222      11/13/1992    UCLA                                    Freshman

Victor Oladipo           G         6-4       213      05/04/1992    Indiana                                   Junior

EJ Singler                    F          6-6       211      06/06/1990    Oregon                                    Senior

Cody Zeller                 F/C     7-0       230      10/05/1992    Indiana                                   Sophomore


** Injured; will not work out

Tags: Alex Len

  • Scott

    C’mon, Schmitz! Get that Len video up on DX already! :)

  • Forever is2long

    I am certain it has happened in the past but I do not recall a draft where the team’s doctor will be so instrumental in who a team selects in the top 6 or 7 spots. There is Noel, Len and Bennett with injuries requiring surgery preventing them from working out at the combine or since.

  • DBreezy


    Don’t forget McCollum coming off surgery and other guys like Franklin with a gimpy ankle. From the previous article, something tells me that Lamb could be had for the right deal from OKC but not PJ3. While I do think deep down Presti regrets choosing Ibaka over Harden, I think he’s smart enough to get over it. He knows that Harden is a very unique talent and that pretty much all the potential replacements he could get would simply be scorers unlikely to have Harden’s intangibles. So basically if he can’t keep Martin, he’s just looking for a bench wing who could score.

    Despite the great showings by guys like Hibbert and Gasol, both guys are going home in favor of teams that are smaller in general. It’s a copycat world, so unless the Spurs beat the Heat by pounding them inside I imagine the small ball trend will largely continue. The Thunder got bounced, but they did learn that they could be competitive without Westbrook and they also learned that they could compete against a pretty big squad not only with Durant at the 4, but without much play from Perkins.

    I wonder how long before they not only consider trading Perkins for a more mobile big, but also seeing if PJ3 can contribute in a fast, long lineup with Ibaka at the 5? That could be special, possibly more so than keeping Lamb and PJ3 if they can add another big as well along with a cheaper bench scoring wing.

  • Forever is2long

    Yeah DBreezy I did forget about McCullum. I also agree OKC will be more flexible in trading Lamb than PJIII. Lamb really started playing well when he went to the developmental league giving ownership reason for optimism but PJ III performed well in a few big league games, so I agree it will be more difficult tyo get Jones.

    Where I disagree is I think the league is becoming a big man league again. Indiana loss due to experience, lack of another scorer and very poor point guard play which contributed to excessive turnovers. Hibbert was imposing his will on the Heat most of the series. When the final four in the NBA had 3 teams that had dominant power forwards and centers (at least defensively) , I think that swayed the pendulum.

    While I could be wrong, I think there will be a higher premium for big men. Starting with Jordan the summer before last teams have been spending big on centers. Robin Lopez is looking like a bargain at $5m/yr.

    As for OKC and Westbrook, most feel Westbrook’s absence has management convinced he is more important to the team’s sustained success than a lot of naysayers thought. The difference between them with and without Westbrook is night and day.

    Who are you picking to win it all? I am going San Antonio. You know Vegas is picking the team with the biggest front line in Splitter and Duncan to win it all. I think Tony Parker will be huge but Duncan and Splitter will make life difficult on Miami. I would not be surprised to see LBJ plays head up on Duncan some in this series.

  • Ty-Sun

    I agree with Forever. Indiana also had weak scoring bench which contributed to their series loss to Miami. Small ball works when you have three all-star caliber players on your team (especially when one of them is THE best player in the game right now) but there aren’t enough all-star players on other teams to make it work for them.

  • Noitall

    If you think about who will be available at 5, that player has just as much chance at impacting our roster as the player drafted 9th. There is really little separation between players in the top half of this draft and may only come down to position need.

    It would make total sense for the Suns to trade their picks to Minnesota [who is rumored to be trying to move up for Oladipo]. Suns could trade Beasley [force him on them] and their 5th and 30th pick for Derrick Williams, Their 9th and 26th pick, and possibly take back Malcolm Lee’s deal.

    This gets us rid of Beasley [they would waive him and spread his salary for cap purposes], nets us D Will, and we upgrade our late pick. All we lose in that deal is a few spots in the lottery of a draft where we may still end up with a player that has a chance to impact our team in the same amount as the 5th pick.

  • DBreezy


    There will always be a premium on bigs in the league as so few teams have even one good or better big man. So I agree that they will continue to be paid well and fetch good trade value. While I’m all for the league becoming a big mans league again personally, I’m not sure that will in fact take place especially if Miami wins the title. That would be two out of the last 3 championships going to team that plays small and fast with that same team appearing in each of those finals.

    It’s still a copycat league, so overall I tend to think that teams will trend more towards what the Heat are doing but with one athletic five for certain matchups. That’s essentially what the Spurs have morphed into and what the championship Mavs were. Other teams like the Warriors, Nuggets, Rockets, and Knicks do similar stuff.

    I don’t think we’re in for a large scale return of the brand of ball that the Grizzlies play until someone changes the mold. To me that’s another interesting facet of Dwightmare 2.0. Duncan, for example, is an interesting breed for more than just his skills. I’ve seen playoff series, some vs. the Suns, where the matchups that day didn’t support playing big with Duncan and the Spurs went small even in crunch time to stay in or win games. Duncan never said/says a word about it nor does he pout going forward. A guy like Omer Asik, Perkins, Bogut, or a Tyson Chandler tends to do the same when faced with that but what will a guy like Dwight do if he’s faced with that in say Houston?

    To me, that’s part of what makes guys like Noel, Drummond, and Davis such intriguing prospects. They’re bigs who can impact the game, that are hard to run off the court with mismatches because they have excellent quickness and agility. I think the Bulls’ Noah is the best example of that in the league today. Ibaka is good too, although he still has much to learn on both ends of the floor.

    None of this is saying that there isn’t a place for centers in the game, there absolutely is. It’s just a different role than it has been in the past for most squads. ESPN is actively slurping all things PJ because they like the drama it creates for news, but they aren’t bothering to question anything he says. He says that he would go with a different game plan than D’Antoni with Howard and Gasol, yet no one bothers to mention that he got run off the floor with a better offensive center in Bynum along with Gasol vs a Mavs team that was more in the newer age mold. Or that a similar type team in OKC beat the Lakers the following year with Mike Brown using a similar offensive philosophy. Credit Pop for adjusting his gameplan to how the league has shifted over Duncan’s career.

  • DBreezy

    As for the finals, I think it really comes down to what level of health Wade can sustain through the series. The Spurs are the second best defensive rebounding team in the league behind Golden State (surprise!). Yet they are only 19th in total team rebounding %, .3 ahead of the 20th place Suns. That’s because they are 29th in offensive rebounding just behind Miami. Not surprisingly the Pacers were second in offensive rebounding.

    While I expect the Spurs to win the battle of the glass, I don’t expect that it will be as great of a differential as it was with the Pacers. So the big question for me is can Miami give Lebron enough offensive help against another good defensive team so that they can score enough to beat the Spurs 4 out of 7? They don’t really have a great choice to cover Lebron, but they can probably live with that if Wade doesn’t go off. Technically that applies to Bosh as well, but who really trusts him to do anything?

    While I think Duncan can and will have some big games in this series, I have to wonder if he can do it for 7 games at the usage rate that Hibbert and West were doing in that Pacers series. The media tends to be prisoners of the moment which clearly favors the Spurs and it will be even more so if the Spurs can manage to steal game 1 after having 12 days off.

    But it seems like Miami has a better chance of getting the Spurs into their kind of game than they did with the Pacers. For one, it’s very similar to the game the Spurs like to play and have played all season. The Pacers don’t play that way and because they’re extremely turnover prone, they were scared to play too fast vs. MIA. Two, as Suns fans know, a heavy dose of offensive rebounding is a huge key to slowing the tempo vs a team like MIA and the Spurs are pretty bad in that department as a team. There’s a chance that this series could look a bit more like the SA/GS series than the MIA/IND or SA/MEM series and that would be tough because MIA is a much better squad than GS. Should be a long series, but if Wade is at least somewhat game I think MIA has an excellent chance of winning in the end. If not, it’s gonna be a painful stretch in the Alamo city for the Heat. Either way they have to add some bench frontcourt depth this offseason.

  • DBreezy


    Sure it’s a tough model to emulate, but it’s also producing a lot of finals appearances across the league so it will probably continue to have ‘admirers’

  • azbballfan

    I am all for trading the 5th pick in the right situation

    But, only if we can get multiple picks for this year or next

    If we end up with Rudy Gobert and CJ McCollum i would be happy with that

    But it has to be the right deal, unlike most teams in the NBA the Suns are starting out from basically nothing talent wise

    Even Charlotte and Orlando are years ahead of us, with young talented prospects at most positions

    There isnt any incentive to trade the 5th pick when we can send Gortat to Portland for their 10th pick and probably trade Dudley to NY for their 24th pick

    Not unless the 5th pick plus some other asset (like cap sapce saving contracts like Beasleys or Browns)

    Net us someone we really really want like Oladip or Mclmore

    I could see the Suns swapping picks with Washington for Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown and the us Getting Omeka Okafor and the 3rd pick

    The Suns in that scenario trade up and get a player they love, they rid themselves of Gortat and Brown and only take back Okafors reasonable deal

    We could still package something together with say, Dallas, and get the 13th pick

    give them the 30th pick and Beasley and Cash

    send Jared Dudley and Tucker to NY for Camby and Novak plus the 24th pick

    That would net us

    picks number 3, 13, 24, 57

    We could have a lineup of

    Dragic, Oladipo, Franklin, Okafor and Withey

    with Glen Rice Jr comming off the bench along with Marshall and both Morris twins

    sign jermaine oneal for another year

    Trade Scola for a future 1st to somebody in July and you got even more options to play with come 2014

    That team would be young, talented, play good D and have plenty of cap space and a hole to fill at the 3 with PArker or Wiggins or Randle

    Just move Franklin to the bench and create a explosive bench with him and Glen Rice Jr

    Sounds great to me

    atleast this team would be watchable

  • hawki

    @ Noitall

    Can’t see Minny taking back Beasley…..they just got rid of him !
    I could see the Suns trade the 5th for the 9th & 26th though…..think they even have a 52nd they could throw in.

  • hawki

    @ DBreezy……re: small ball

    in agreement, I think
    I’d rather have a couple 6’9″…6’10″ guys that can get up & down the court & play D.
    Which is why I’d rather draft a guy like Jean-Charles at 30 than Len at 5…..and get a FA like Wright or Hickson.
    You have to have a 7-footer on your team for special occasions & we have Haddadi, at least for now.
    Keep Gortat for another year unless someone comes up with a sweetheart deal.
    I thought Beasley could do something, but it’s now painfully obvious he has to go.
    Not sure what to do with Scola…suppose he could hold down the fort for another year while McDonough’s vision comes into focus.
    We now know Kieff is nothing more than a back-up.

  • foreveris2long

    You will never get out of the West playing small ball. Even OKC last summer picked up a reserve 7 footer and my money says they upgrade their center spot again this summer. Small ball can get you 50 wins but unless you have the best player in the game it is nearly impossible to have sustained success. Even Golden State traded for a legitimate 7 footer and drafted a center last summer. New Orleans will be better than the Suns again because They have a good forward center combo. Sacramento is better than the Suns because we cannot slow their center down. Houston wants Howard so they can move their center to power forward.

    I could be wrong but the trend is getting bigger not smaller.

  • Scott

    It seems to me you need good players at every spot you can manage to get them in at.

    That’s simplistic, I know, but I think you need a good PG, SG, SF, PF, and C, and then you need good reserves. It’s the strengths and weaknesses you have at each spot that will define your team.

    After that it comes down to good team play and favorable team match-ups on the road to the championship.

    In other words, the more All-Stars and Hall of Famers on your team, the better your chances. And – unlike the Lakers – they have to stay healthy.

  • DBreezy

    I think we’re somewhat hung up on the ‘small ball’ moniker from years past. I mean it’s funny that you can still turn on ESPN, TNT, etc hear that term and somebody will say that small ball still hasn’t proven it can win a championship.

    That’s silly because the Heat are a small, uptempo team that has gone to three straight finals winning 1 so far. Sure having the best player in the game is a big boon, but that goes for any kind of basketball style. Outside of the early 2000′s Pistons who has won a chip without one or more of the best players in the game? Last year’s finals featured 6 of the very best players in the league and the only old school center was pretty much made an afterthought-something that was largely true throughout the 2012 playoffs for OKC.

    I think what has changed in recent years, probably much to SSOL Suns fans chagrin, is that the game is played at a much faster pace in general than it was before and that poses problems for a lot of bigs. One because there are some bigs who don’t really change ends all that well and two it sometimes exposes skill issues resulting in more turnovers for some bigs.

    Bigs are still very much necessary in the game, but they must be effective at faster speeds than before or there are certain matchups where they will be on the bench. Especially if a team isn’t dominant enough on the offensive glass to even out possessions. While I think Mia definitely could use another big, they’re still a team that forces even most playoff teams to adjust to what they do instead of vice versa. OKC is capable of doing the same with Ibaka at the 5 and Durant at the 4 as long as Westbrook’s healthy.

    GS got a 7 footer in Bogut but they posted a lot of their strong defensive numbers this season without him. They also didn’t use him all the time in their playoff matchups and often ran with Barnes at the 4. They’ll probably use that look at times next year with Lee at the 5 vs certain teams. I don’t know if that is small ball in the way we’ve traditionally thought of it. Down the line as Davis gets stronger, don’t be surprised if there are matchups where R.Lo sits and Davis plays the 5 allowing Ryan Anderson to return to his preferred position at the 4.

    I also think that the Rockets are playing with fire with the Howard thing. If the Lakers thought they had interior spacing problems with Gasol and Howard, what exactly do you have with Asik and Howard? Howard isn’t that great of a S/R player so what effect does having two 7 footers out there have on the Rockets best offensive player in Harden? The Rockets were so effective this season because they spread the floor with so many shooters. That will change and Howard hasn’t shown that he’s a consistent enough threat in the post for that to be worthwhile. It might be a case of be careful what you wish for. Like the Knicks who desperately want a 2nd scorer alongside Melo, preferably an interior one, but they can’t use Amar’e effectively because Chandler clogs the middle unless he’s setting the screen in a S/R and Melo prefers to operate from the elbow without a screen which crowds the post. They went well beyond a standard D’Antoni team in small ball efforts this season.

    I also think it’s interesting how failure is viewed by pundits in this league. Many are quick to point out how what they call small ball will never work. However many of the teams that they call small, aren’t really that small, they just play uptempo and put points on the board which isn’t the same thing. Also many of the teams that play what the pundits feel is the right way, fail in the playoffs and get off the hook for it relative to uptempo teams. Teams like the Grizz, Pacers and Bulls have failed just like the old Suns and Kings. In fact most of these teams haven’t even shown the consistency in the playoffs over the years that the Suns and Kings did-and both of those squads dealt with big injuries(Amar’e, Webber) too so I don’t want to hear about Rose. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with how they play and actually like those teams, but failure is failure.

    I think the trend will remain faster and faster with skills until there is a big man dominant enough to change that. I’d put my money on there being more DeAndre Jordan’s and JaVale McGee’s than Bynum’s, Gasol, Brook Lopez and Hibbert’s in the future. I routinely play with teenagers who are gigantic and basically afraid of the paint-especially if you body them up at all. We haven’t changed, but the game has!

  • DBreezy

    I’ve said way, way too much today, but I’ll add this. I find it interesting that Hornacek keeps reiterating that he wants to push the ball and play uptempo. Partially because that easier said then done in a league that’s faster in general than before especially if you don’t have the personnel. But more because he’s a guy who experienced tremendous success in Sloan’s system which wasn’t breakneck and between Sloan and Corbin he’s made the playoffs 4 out of 6 seasons playing that style as a consultant/assistant coach. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if he came in here wanting that style with better defense and personnel balance between the front and back court. I suspect he feels that he must adapt to the league on some level.

  • Scott

    I think an uptempo style bodes well for the Suns selecting athletes like Oladipo and fast bigs like Zeller.

    It should also please fans, many of whom have grown up with the idea of the Suns being a fast team.

    It probably also hints at goodbyes to Scola, Dudley, and Haddadi, when possible.

  • Scott

    I should also mention that Dragic seemed to be playing faster and harder than just about anybody on the Suns. Hornacek may simply be trying to get the rest of the team composed to keep pace, with Dragic as the example.

  • Forever is2long

    i think a lot of fans misunderstand thinking big means slow. That is a myth. Denver had I believe 3 seven footers and seemed to have one on the floor most of the game and they played very up tempo basketball.

    Dallas won a championship with a 7 foot Chandler manning the rim on defense. Bogut was huge on defense in the Warriors playoff run and let us not forget Showtime Lakers with Magic and the elderly Kareem. The Spurs have played more up tempo basketball in the past two years than at any other time with two 7 footers in the lineup and Vegas has them favored to win it all.

    So no big does not necessarily mean slow down basketball.

  • Ty-Sun

    @DBreezy – You and I obviously have different definitions of “small ball”. And that makes our different opinions about small ball almost a moot point.

  • Scott

    I think NBA commentators have been calling small ball unsuccessful for so long now, that it has become the determining factor in what is small ball or not. In other words, whether you are playing big or small, fast or slow, if the style is unsuccessful, it’s “small ball.” :p

    BTW, Schmitz got the Len video up! You’ll also find updated scouting at:

  • Forever is2long

    Thanks Scott. The article was honest in that he should go to a team that can be patient with his development as he is only 19 but his upside is so promising he could be worth the wait. While I would not trade up to get him, if he is available at #5, he would be my pick as the draft this year and next, seems loaded with talented wings.

  • Forever is2long

    I cannot speak for anyone else but I like what I am seeing from McD. I mean he brings in T. Burke, McCullum, Michael Williams and Larkins today looking for the best player available despite Dragic and Marshall in the fold. According to Coro he wants the best player available period. I have been saying from day one I hope the Suns give T. Burke adequate consideration for their lottery pick should he be available. While i like Oladipo, I would take Burke or Len before Oladipo. Good for McD. I love the vibes I am getting from Planet Orange this summer.

  • Ty-Sun

    Every season since Amare left I’ve been hopeful but not excited about the Suns’ prospects for the next season. This year I’m hopeful and excited because of the hiring of McD and “Horny”. I don’t expect a big jump in the the Suns’ next season in wins but this just “feels” as though they are finally moving forward. While I’m hoping to see some big changes in the roster next season, I really don’t think that McD will make any bad or “ify” trades just to clean the slate.

    Like it or not, Beasley will probably be back next season (unless the Suns just decide to waive him). Gortat is likely to be traded but I doubt he will be given away so he might actually start out the season with the Suns and be a mid-season trade. Most years I would say that – even though I really like Dudley – getting another team to trade anything other than a low 1st round pick would be a long shot, in this draft a mid to late 1st rounder for him could be possible from certain teams.

    The Suns shouldn’t be big players in the free agent market this year. They need to go young and then sign free agents to 1-2 year contracts to fill in the holes in the roster after they’ve done their best to load up with young talent.

    If they even come close to doing all that, I will cheer them on all season long even if they wind up with a worse record than this past season.

  • DBreezy

    Yes it’s nice to see a wide variety of players brought in for workouts and given good looks versus the old way of the Suns clearly zeroing in on one or two guys. McD has made it clear that he already had a rough ranking in his mind before the combine and workouts, but I love that he’s still checking everyone out and getting input.

  • Forever is2long

    Yeah Ty, I don’t care about the record next season, it is all about development of the young new players and trying to establish a culture that should produce substantially more wins a year or two later.

  • DBreezy

    Also for those interested, I saw this linked on another site after yesterday’s workout.

  • Forever is2long

    Nice reference DBreezy, I agree that his likely place in the lottery is 8-14. While I too question his lateral quickness, I do not think he falls out of the lottery because he can score. I have a cousin who lives in California but is a Piston’s fan who says the Pistons definitely want Shabazz with their lottery pick.

  • Scott

    If Shabazz could improve his lateral quickness, could he play SG?

    Or is it that he needs to improve his lateral quickness to play SF?

  • NOitall

    @ Hawki

    In deals, sometimes it doesn’t matter who the player is they are taking back, it is whether doing so allows the overall main deal to get done. Taking Bease isn’t about MIN acquiring him, it would be about them acquiring a contract they would waive immediately and then stretch the remaining dollars over 5 years so that their cap hit is minimal [it would end up being 2.5 M for 5 years]. Not saying they would do that per se, but they may consider it if we take back the equivalent in salary, or if they really want Oladipo, they pay for him.

  • DBreezy


    I keep watching for workout reports and am glad that he got to matchup vs a 2 yesterday in VO. I haven’t seen any consistent valid reason why Bazz can’t play the two. I think a lot of people have him as 3 now because he’s doesn’t presently have a traditional 2 guard game. A guy like BMac does a lot of the shooting, perimeter movement and footwork type things of a 2. Bazz already does a lot of things some of the bigger 2′s like Jordan and Kobe have done in terms of post ups and inside curls and cuts and he’ll have to keep working on the other stuff. The lateral quickness question is whether or not he’ll be able to defend the position and thus far I haven’t seen evidence that he can’t.

  • Scott

    In the Pistons post you linked above, it notes that Shabazz is working on incorporating some of Harden’s moves. To me – and I’ve been considering Shabazz right along as a possible SG – if he’s using Harden’s moves, it seems they could be looking at playing him more as a guard, putting the ball on the floor and so forth.