What if the Suns Didn’t Draft Alex Len?


In 2013, the Phoenix Suns used their 5th overall draft pick to select the 7’0″ center from Maryland, Alex Len. But what if they decided to go a different way?

With the early career success from players like Nerlens Noel, Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and other 2013 first-round draft picks, there has to be some question of whether or not the Suns got it right by drafting Len.

Early indications say that Len was a player taken ahead of when he should’ve been. His career 6.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game is nothing a top 5 draft pick is hoping to achieve during his career.

Maybe the Suns did mess up by drafting Len so high in the draft. It isn’t like he’s considered a total bust just yet, but with his rookie contract ending after the 2016-2017 season, he does need to significantly improve before he’s worthy of another Suns deal.

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So, what would have happened if the Suns didn’t draft Alex Len?

It all depends on who they picked instead. During the time, the Suns had some front court, but not much of one. A center was the smart choice, but maybe not Len. But the pick after Len was Philadelphia 76ers big man, Nerlens Noel.

Noel isn’t an All-Star right now, but he has had a better career than Len three seasons in. Noel has shown to be a stronger defender than Len is, and has been able to produce more all-around game in the paint for the 76ers.

What the Suns would have gotten out of Noel during his rookie season, is a player who was injured. Which is why it’s understandable that the Suns were weary on drafting him No. 5 overall. Noel has come back strong, though. His first playing season in the NBA, he nearly averaged a double-double with 9.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. While averaging 1.9 blocks and 1.8 steals as well. Both very impressive numbers for a rookie center playing on the worst team in basketball.

Today, the Suns would most-likely not have signed Tyson Chandler, which would’ve have freed a lot of cap space this past offseason, as well as allowing Alan Williams to develop more into the backup center in Phoenix.

This isn’t saying that Noel should have been the call. It’s just putting hypothetical scenarios into play.

Another option the Suns had at the No. 5 pick, was Ben McLemore. For most experts, McLemore was the only player in the 2013 Draft who was NBA ready. His freakish athleticism made him comparable to his now teammate Rudy Gay.

At the time, the Suns shooting guard options were P.J. Tucker, Shannon Brown, Wesley Johnson, and Sebastian Telfair. You may disagree, but it seemed like a shooting guard would be a need for the Suns.

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Today, McLemore is playing just as well as Len is. His 7.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 2015-2016 is nothing to be excited about. It’s hard to tell how he’d play on a different team than the Kings. But it’s safe to assume that the Suns didn’t lose anything but not drafting McLemore. Especially since two years later they drafted Devin Booker.

Now, you can say that the Suns had an opportunity to draft players like Rudy Gobert, C.J. McCollum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they didn’t. These players weren’t considered top five draft picks coming out of college. They just proved to be the top of their draft class as of now.

The Suns realistically had maybe two or three other options to choose from besides Len, and late lottery and first-round picks were not them.

So, if the Suns didn’t pick Len, could Noel or McLemore be in Phoenix right now? If they were, there’d be a pretty good shot they’d be playing exactly like they are right now.

Depending on who they drafted, the roster may not consist of players like Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, or Tyson Chandler. For some people, that’s a good thing, but the Suns being on the up and up in the near future is something real Suns’ fans are excited about.

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It’ll always be a mystery to whether or not the Suns got it right with Len. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see as the years progress whether this 7-footer was the right call for Phoenix.