NBA Draft 2013: Phoenix Suns select Alex Len with No. 5 pick


The Suns had a chance at Nerlens Noel, but they instead opted to take Alex Len at No. 5.

After rumors suggesting he might go No. 1 overall, Alex Len was snubbed, but he still heard his name in the top five. Len was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Len wasn't able to work out in the months before the draft due to a stress fracture in his foot, leaving teams to bank on essentially just one season of play. Len was a relative unknown in the recruiting process and wasn't elite as a freshman either, but essentially doubled his production as a sophomore and showed he had the NBA skills to go along with an NBA frame.

More Suns coverage: Bright Side of the Sun

The 7'1 sophomore from Maryland projects as a center in the NBA, and he is considered one of the most-skilled big men in the draft.

Len is a fairly polished offensive player with a solid perimeter game. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during his second season with the Terrapins. The Ukrainian big man displayed good touch last season, as he shot 53.4 percent from the field and 68.6 percent from the free throw line.

He is considered to be a solid rebounder and a good athlete for his size, but he still needs to add strength to his frame to compete with NBA big men. With the ability to play with his back to the basket, Len has plenty of upside and should be able to contribute in some capacity during his rookie season.

Many feel his game was stifled by Maryland's poor guard play last season. The Suns are investing a high pick to find out if this is indeed the case.

The opportunity to land an ultra-talented big man was something new Suns GM Ryan McDonough simply could not pass up, but the selection does raise a new set of questions for the Suns. Can Len co-exist with incumbent center Marcin Gortat, who has one year remaining on his contract, or will Gortat be traded to clear the way for Len's development and accelerate the rebuilding process?

Offensive-minded veterans like Luis Scola, Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic should be able to ease Len's transition to the NBA. He should receive opportunities to work as a complementary player when those guys are on the floor, meaning he can refine his skills as an off-ball cutter, offensive rebounder and pick-and-roll screener. If the Suns want to bring Len along slowly, they can hold on to Gortat for another year and use their top pick in a reserve role.

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