Skip to content

Maryland’s Alex Len could be the No. 1 pick. Why is that?

Jun 27, 2013, 8:45 AM EST

Alex Len, Tahjere McCall, T.J. Cline, Antoine Mason AP

Alex Len put up nice but not thrilling stats at Maryland last season — 11.9 points a game on 53.4 percent shooting, with 7.8 rebounds a game. He’s seen as talented but raw. After the season he had surgery on a stress fracture in his ankle, and there are concerns his health issues could be chronic.

So why are we talking about this guy as a potential No. 1 overall pick?

Why is this the guy that the Thunder and reportedly others want to trade up into the top five to get?

Because he’s a big man with potential.

Of course, so were Michael Olowokandi and Kwame Brown, but at this time of year general managers get seduced with potential — and Len certainly has that. In a draft with no franchise changing, lock No. 1 pick teams have been drawn to the potential of Len. The upside, if you like your cliché draft words.

There’s no question the Ukrainian born Len — at 7’0”, 255 pounds — has NBA big man size. Plus this guy has all the physical tools you want in a center — he moves well, has soft hands, has shown good touch around the rim, can pass, can blocks shots, and he rebounds.

At least, that’s what the team that drafts him will say, but the reality is a little different — Len is raw offensively. There’s a lot of potential, but a lot of questions. Questions such as why other reasonably-sized big men could push him out of the post in college.

Len is hot in part because we haven’t really seen what he can do, and therefore haven’t picked apart his strengths and weaknesses to the same degree as others.

It was hard to get a read from his days at Maryland how good he was because guards couldn’t get him the ball (the Terrapins’ floor spacing was terrible). If you thought you could get a good read on him at the NBA Draft Combine or private workouts, guess again. The ankle surgery did that in. So teams are searching for better information about Len.

When an NBA team drafts a guy it’s not what he can do for them this coming season that matters, it’s what he can do three years down the line. Five years down the line. Some GMs think Len could be better than Noel three years from now. So they are willing to roll the dice on him more than anyone else is this draft.

Opinions around the league vary on Len — some teams love him, some want nothing to do with him. But all it takes is one GM near the top of the draft to put a lot of pressure on Len and pick him near the top. And on that GM takes on the pressure too for taking the risk.

But if it’s not No. 1 it is top six for sure. Len is going to go high up.

Latest Posts
  1. Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler on lack of ‘grownups’ on Denver roster: ‘It’s probably true’

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Pacers’ David West made the assertion after Denver fired head coach Brian Shaw.

  2. NBA admits James Harden was fouled in final seconds of Rockets’ loss to Grizzlies

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Houston Rockets vs Washington Wizards Getty Images

    We all saw it at the time, but the league confirmed the missed call the next day.

  3. PBT Extra: Russell Westbrook taking the NBA by storm (VIDEO)

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Russell Westbrook Russell Westbrook

    Westbrook has had four consecutive triple-doubles.

  4. Training like the Pros: Recapping a month-long Nike Basketball workout experience

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:11 PM EST

    zoom city edit

    Recapping a month-long Nike Basketball training experience, which featured workouts run by Tim Grover, Jerry Powell and Idan Ravin — who have trained guys like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Also includes performance reviews of Nike’s latest basketball shoes.

  5. Report: JaVale McGee can’t reach deal with Celtics

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:31 PM EST

    Denver Nuggets v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Dispute reportedly over terms of second season

  6. Craig Sager makes long-awaited return to TNT after 11-month battle with leukemia

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:36 PM EST

    Nebraska v Baylor Getty Images

    Sager will be on the sidelines for Thursday night’s Bulls-Thunder matchup.

  7. Who will win NBA scoring title? Russell Westbrook passes James Harden for lead

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:11 PM EST

    NBA 2K15 Launch Celebration Getty Images

    Nine players have ended a day leading the NBA in points per game this season

  8. Hassan Whiteside reaches back for crunch-time alley-oop from Dwyane Wade (video)

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:28 AM EST

    Whiteside posts monster 18-25-4 in win over Lakers

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Westbrook (8206)
  2. K. Durant (6989)
  3. A. Davis (6106)
  4. D. Rose (5841)
  5. D. Howard (5809)
  1. D. Cousins (5697)
  2. K. Lowry (5612)
  3. P. George (5499)
  4. L. James (5296)
  5. J. Butler (5076)