Alex Len still expects to make impact in frustrating year

PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns center Alex Len was dealing with an upset stomach after practice on Thursday and that wasn’t the worst part of his day. After talking with me, Len was off to the dentist. Most people that have to deal with the horrors of the dentist office and an upset stomach in the same day would probably say it’s one of the more frustrating days in a year.

For the 7-foot-1 center, Thursday’s irritations don’t touch the frustration of his rookie campaign with the Suns.

The fifth overall pick in the NBA Draft this past summer has only played 31 minutes in four games and has not played since Nov. 20. Len has been limited due to reoccurring soreness in his left ankle that required surgery over the summer to repair a partial stress fracture.

The experience of having to spend the beginning of his NBA career rehabbing an injury has been the most frustrating event in Len’s life.

“This has been the worst,” Len said. “It is your rookie year and you can’t play as the team is playing great.

“You just want to be a part of it.”

The Suns are off to a surprising 12-9 start and are looking more and more like a playoff team rather than the lottery squad most people projected them to be at the beginning of the season. The quick start does have a benefit for Len — it allows him to ease his way back into the rotation instead of having pressure to hurry back to the court.

“(The fast start) takes some pressure off and allows me to work on things so I am ready when I come back,” Len said.

The fifth pick in the draft hopes to return to practice in the next couple of weeks and is spending his time doing things he can control. He’s lifting weights, riding the bike and working on stationary shooting. He still sees himself making an impact this season for the Suns.

“I can help the team defensively with my size by challenging shots and grabbing rebounds,” Len said of what he will bring to the team when he comes back. “We have a lot of potential and young guys who give it their all on the court.”

Len’s possible return to the Suns rotation could be a game-changer for down the stretch as the team battles for positioning, perhaps even in regards to the postseason. Len’s size and rebounding will be able to take some pressure off Miles Plumlee and bring a new energy to the team that hopes to be playing important games in March and April.

In a few months, all of this frustration could be over with for Len, and it could turn out to be a successful year. Just think, the worst part of his season is already over with.

He got his visit with the dentist out of the way.

Tags: Alex Len Maryland Phoenix Suns

  • Solarion

    I wanted McClemore, I’m willing to keep an open mind with Len because I believe in McMiracle, but this is getting a little ridiculous.

  • Luka

    The best thing Len can do, when he gets his chance again, is to focus on rebounding and blocking shots. I could care less about his offensive game at this point. Len has the ability to be a rim protector and be a missing piece to team. Hornacek needs to get that message to him in time.

  • JD

    McLemore: 25 min, 35.7% FG, 9.4 ppg, 9.8 PER, .022 WS/48. True, he’ll get better but then so will Len. To say “this is getting a little ridiculous” is a little ridiculous because you can’t possibly like McLemore’s stats so far. Also, Len is not the only rookie to take most or all of his rookie year to rehab from injury.

  • Foreveris2long

    I have no problem with a guy coming off of two ankle surgeries still being on the shelf. There has been a lot of discussion on the board about old Sun R. lopez whom I recall being injured quite a bit his first two seasons, which included a herniated disc in his back. It took at least three years for him to start playing decent in spurts. Now he is a pretty good center on one of the best teams in the league.

    Patience Solarion as I too do not think there is anything ridiculous about his recovery time. While I would love to see him play now, not to the detriment of a thorough and complete recovery. If he does not play for another 30 -45 days but then gives us 15-20 minutes a night, wouldn’t that be acceptable? Alternatively, he does not play at all this season but plays really good next season, I would be ok with that as well. From my point of view I did not expect much out of this team this year so his unavailability does not affect the big picture which is the next two or three years.

    Good stuff JD.

  • Sunsn7

    “And with the EIGHTEENTH pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select….”

    How’s THAT for “Ingniting the Future”??


  • Solarion

    I said I wanted McClemore, sure now a month into the season I may have changed my mind. But drafting a player with a known health issue, and an issue with most big men, then having him out doesn’t bode well for his long term dependability. So yeah, it’s a little ridiculous.

  • http://none Go Phx

    Exactly, JD

  • Jeremiah


    Drafting a player even high in the first round is more about long term success than short term. This is pretty much what you should expect when drafting a true 7 footer is for them to take a while to develop. Truth is we really won’t know for sure if this was a good pick or not for at least a couple more years.

  • Jeremiah


  • john


    Only a fool would be disappointed with a hot start by a fun team. Top three isn’t going to happen, and that was never a guaranteed road to success in the first place. The Suns are exciting, interesting, relevant, and a desirable destination as a team heading in the right direction. I see no “bleh” in that.

  • Bruce Kimura

    Mclemore? Screw that, we could have gotten Carter-Williams. Even with Dragic and Bledsoe we could have made it work. He is going to be an allstar one day

  • Chad

    Spot on Jeremiah. We won’t know for some time yet.

  • Dominik

    The Suns picking Len was a bit of a surprise to me but I’m pretty sure, he’ll turn himself into a solid player.
    A German basketball featured a small scouting report on him a couple of months back, calling him one of the most promising European prospects.

    I really like the Suns playing well, though I think we’ll end as a lottery team because the schedule seems to get a lot tougher and January has a lot of away games in store, which makes me expect a very unpleasant month.
    As long as this team keeps improving, I can handle that. I’d not give up on a high draft pick just yet, especially because the Suns have a pile of 1st round picks coming up, which might be used to aquire a higher draft pick in the upcoming draft — who knows?

  • Voqar

    @sunsn7 – Suns don’t have to have the worst record in the league to get better. Our GM seems to be doing pretty well with little to work with as it is – things are looking up.

    Many of the teams that DO end up with top picks do little with them, since they are the hopelessly and eternally crappy teams.

  • EBJM

    Forever don’t forget Robin and Brook both had stress fractures in their right foot in addition to Robin’s other injuries. So their is hope that Len can fully recover from the stress fractures in his ankles.

    But on the other hand two stress fractures, one in each ankle by age 20 has to send up some red flags. Remember it was two stress fractures in his left foot followed by a stress fracture in his ankle that prematurely ended Yao Ming’s career.

  • Solarion

    Sure, looking at the draft now in hindsight we can all say who was a better pick then player XYZ. But centers typically have foot/ankle issues, but it takes a while for that to occur, with Len having them so soon it doesn’t bode well for him/SUNS.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, you are right in that I did forget about Brook’s injury history and he is an all-star.

  • Miguel

    Can’t wait to see this guy as a finished product! He has great instincts on both sides of the ball and possesses great length and athleticism for a 7ftr. I see a very bright future for him, hopefully as a Sun with an Allstar Eric Bledsoe and 2014 lottery pick.