Phoenix Suns rookie Alex Len, the fifth-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, was unable to compete at the Las Vegas Summer League this year as he was recovering from another ankle surgery. Now back to full-health, the Suns are getting a look at the big, young center in preseason action.
Coming into the draft, Len was one of the hardest players to place. There’s no denying the physical tools that the 7’1” big man has as an offensive player, but whether or not he has the durability, defensive ability, or game to succeed in the NBA was a mystery. There’s no doubt that selecting Len was a gamble on the Sun’s behalf.
Through his first three games in the preseason, Len remains somewhat of a mystery still. He’s shown flashes of solid play coming off of the bench, but he hasn’t yet put forth a full game that would make you sit back and go, “Oh, wow.”
In his first bit of action against Maccabi Haifa, Len played 16 minutes and finished with seven points, six rebounds and one block on 3-7 shooting. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, though, he was basically a non-factor in his 14 minutes on the floor as he finished with zero points, two rebounds and four fouls to his name for the game. He picked it back up versus the San Antonio Spurs, though, finishing with six points, nine rebounds and two blocks on 3-6 shooting in 25 minutes on the floor.
The thing that has stood out the most about Len is the fact that he has mostly shied away from being a physical presence. He’s gotten to the line only twice over three games and has played facing the basket more often than not. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for a guy with his size, it’s surprising and bit disappointing to see.
Len has the offensive skill to succeed at the NBA level it seems, but he needs to develop the rest of his game more thoroughly. He needs to become a more physical presence, using his big frame to his advantage, and work on his defensive awareness as well. He’s got a long ways to go to reach his potential, but, as seems to be a trend with Len, his future is quite unpredictable.