Like current Suns center, 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.
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, somethingstruggled 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