Alex Len: Phoenix Suns 2013 NBA Draft profile

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpPvt_ilgZE]

Strengths

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.

X-factor

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

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