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Alex Len says he can show immediate improvement in the NBA with the Suns, because ‘in college, the spacing sucks’

Jun 29, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Draft Suns Basketball AP

PHOENIX — The Suns selected Alex Len with the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s draft, and the 7’1″ center from Maryland expects to be able to show immediate improvement in the NBA based on one simple fact that applies to basketball played at the college level.

“In college, the spacing sucks,” Len said at his introductory press conference at the US Airways Center in Phoenix on Friday. “Every time I got the ball, there was a double team, and coach wanted me to just kick it out to my teammates, so that’s what I did.”

That seems to be the key point in Len’s mind when discussing the differences between the professional game and the one he played in Maryland. He mentioned it Thursday night via conference call, and elaborated on it a bit on Friday in person.

“In the NBA, there’s better spacing,” Len said.  “It makes it easier on the big guys because we have more space to work on the block. But I know I can contribute right away on the defensive end of the floor — I have size, I can alter shots, I can run the floor. And on offense, we’ll see what coach wants me to do.”

Jeff Hornacek, the new head coach of the Suns, was in attendance for Len’s presser on Friday, and seemed excited by the offensive possibilities that will ultimately be presented with the rookie center in his team’s lineup.

“We’re going to be pushing the ball, but if we get into some quick swing actions, he’s either going to be the first one down to get into that post-up area, or he’s going to trail the play, swing it, and go into some quick pick and rolls,” Hornacek said. “He’s got a great pick and roll or pop action where he can make that 15-17 foot shot. There’s a variety of ways that we can use him.”

It was pointed out to Len that the spacing may similarly “suck” in the NBA at times, but he seemed to have a calm approach in terms of how he’d handle things at the professional level.

“If you get double teamed, you’ve just got to kick it out to your players,” he said. “But it’s the same thing as what I did in college. You get position, get the ball, and do whatever you can do.”

  1. goraidersgospurs - Jun 29, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    I thought NASH jersey number would be retired!!

    • doubledown44 - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      That’s not going to be his jersey number. The front of the jersey has the No. 20 and the back has 13 (for 2013). Not the greatest idea, though, when all the photos will only show 13.

  2. watermelon1 - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Sorry but you were NOT a superstar at Maryland and were NOT getting double teamed even 50% of the time.

    But hey, whatever motivates him to succeed and not waste this opportunity… even if it’s lying to yourself.

    • aarondommin - Jun 29, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      Who says only superstars get double teamed? Most ACC teams trap or double team players to create turnovers. And Len is absolutely correct, the NBA has better shooter to create spacing AND a defensive 3 second call. Hence big men develop much better offensive games once they are in the league.

  3. ohioteamsusuallysuck - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    I agree raiders spurs but maybe that’s not his # but the draft year?

  4. elgorditodehumboldt - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    because the big man talent in the NBA is so much worse than in the vaunted ACC…

  5. censormynameandmycomments - Jun 29, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Len averaged 1.0 assist with all those double teams and kick outs.

  6. allmyexsliveintexas - Jun 29, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    How about all the times you were out-worked for position down low in college? That sucked too.

  7. mdak06 - Jul 2, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    The relatively poor guard play of the Terps hurt Len at Maryland. He received passes further away from the basket because he had no confidence that the guards’ interior passes would get to him (so he started further away from the basket than he should have). The fact that Howard (PG) wasn’t a threat to shoot also meant that teams could continually double-team Len.

    The occasional times when teams did not double-team him (when he faced Plumlee and Noel) Len did quite well. I suspect that’ll be what will happen more in the NBA for Len.

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