Skip to content

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

Jun 27, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT

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. LeBron James apparently remembers everything

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five Getty Images

    LeBron has used more than just physical gifts to become all-time great NBA player

  2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar training Roy Hibbert

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Roy Hibbert Roy Hibbert

    Pacers center needs confidence more than a skyhook

  3. Five biggest surprises from Summer League

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    D-League Select v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Russ Smith had a nice Summer League.

  4. Report: Jameer Nelson to meet with Mavericks

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers

    Dallas, seeking third point guard, has already met with Mo Williams

  5. Cavaliers sign second-round pick Joe Harris

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:00 AM EDT

    Coastal Carolina v Virginia Getty Images

    As Cavaliers position themselves for Kevin Love trade, now was the time to sign No. 33 pick

  6. Report: Grizzlies to hire Jeff Bzdelik as assistant coach

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 AM EDT

    ACC Basketball Tournament - First Round Getty Images

    Bzdelik, who most recently coached Wake Forest, previously served as Nuggets head coach

  7. Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant share brunch (photo)

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Justin Bieber Justin Bieber

    Bieber wearing a Nets hat, so you know what that means…

  8. Cavaliers trade with Jazz, gain pieces for Kevin Love deal

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans

    Utah reportedly trades John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy to Cleveland for Carrick Felix, second-round pick and $1 million

  9. Clippers CEO: If Sterling remains owner then Doc Rivers, players, sponsors all ready to bolt

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

    Sterling will be removed as Clippers owner one way or another because he is toxic to the organization right now.

  10. Bojan Bogdanovic officially becomes member of Brooklyn Nets. Finally.

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    JSF Nanterre v Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Getty Images

    He’s going to get some of Paul Pierce’s minutes.

  11. Isaiah Austin says NBA has offered him a job once he finishes degree

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Adam Silver does the classy thing. Again.

  12. Agent spins Evan Turner could have gotten $10 million a year if he’d stayed in Philly. Nope.

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Evan Turner is now a reclamation project — if he wants to get paid he has to become more efficient.

  13. Report: Cavaliers trying to acquire other players to put in Kevin Love trade

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    It means the Timberwolves want to send Kevin Martin out in the Love deal, Cavs trying to make that happen.

  14. Report: Cavaliers to sign Andrew Wiggins as early as Wednesday

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Once signed, he can’t be traded for 30 days … to the Timberwolves, for example.

  15. Report: Bulls making push to trade for Kevin Love

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Kevin Love

    Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler would reportedly be sent to Minnesota.

  16. Report: NBA warned stars against participating in clinics in the Philippines

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Liillard among players who would face fines if they participated in a planned exhibition in Manila.

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4478)
  2. A. Wiggins (3381)
  3. L. James (3355)
  4. E. Bledsoe (3132)
  5. R. Allen (2911)
  1. K. Bryant (2878)
  2. C. Boozer (2830)
  3. L. Stephenson (2761)
  4. D. Rose (2735)
  5. K. Marshall (2358)