While currently recovering from a left ankle surgery that had him in a boot, Alex Len’s routine medical exam showed the Phoenix Suns’ medical staff the “very beginnings” of a stress fracture in the center’s right ankle. The team announced surgery was performed Monday.
Len should be able to return by the beginning of the season, the team said.
“As a precautionary measure, our medical staff determined that it would be prudent to perform surgery on Alex Len’s right ankle at this time,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby in a press release. “That surgery was successfully completed this morning. As part of a routine evaluation, our medical team identified the very beginnings of a stress fracture in Alex’s right ankle even though Alex was entirely asymptomatic. We expect him to be available to begin the season.”
But now the questions arise about the foot injuries. If Len truly was considered a No. 1 talent like Nerlens Noel, why did he also fall past the fourth pick?
Len probably hasn’t been doing much more than walking because of his left ankle stress fracture so how there’s a stress fracture in his other ankle is concerning. And even if the find was caught on time, a non-medical professional’s guess about surgery being needed probably means it’s a big enough deal. Then again, it might be a purely preventative move since the fifth overall pick from the 2013 draft will be out until close to the beginning of the year anyway.
When general manager Ryan McDonough met with the media on draft night, he addressed the ankle issues.
“I don’t know how much you can answer this,” I asked him, “but just that foot injury and being a big guy — that’s generally a bigger concern — do you know anything about feeling good that that’s not a longterm issue?”
“I would say short answer, ‘Yes,’” McDonough responded. “Our medical people, who are some of the best in the league, took a close look at it and studied it. And we’re confident he won’t have issues going forward. So I guess I’ll just say we would not have drafted him if we thought it was a significant medical risk.”
Still, maybe it’s not. With medical technology these days, teams can detect potential stress fractures far before they become real issues. An aside: From my knowledge of the Arizona Wildcats basketball team, there have been four noted stress fracture finds in the past two years between three players, and none required more than six weeks of rest.
Sometimes rest is the only thing needed to keep a player on the court without missing significant amounts of time. And the good news here, if there’s any, is that the Suns caught this before it became a bigger deal.
Read about Len’s left ankle issues and a controversy at Maryland from The Baltimore Sun
The Suns officially signed 29th overall pick Archie Goodwin on Monday.