SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about Maryland center Alex Len.
NAME: Alex Len.
AGE ON DRAFT DAY: He turns 20 in mid-June.
MEASUREMENTS: 7'1, 255 pounds. Did not get measured at the 2013 NBA Draft combine.
|2012 - Alex Len||38||26.4||4.6||8.5||53.4||0.0||0.2||12.5||2.8||4.0||68.6||2.9||5.0||7.8||1.0||1.6||0.2||2.1||2.7||11.9|
RELEVANT "ADVANCED" STATS: 68.6% free-throw shooting percentage this season. If Len can be a consistent threat in the pick-and-pop game, the sky is the limit offensively.
SB NATION BIG BOARD POSITION: No. 3.
NBA CEILING: Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
NBA FLOOR: Kosta Koufos.
JONATHAN TJARKS' ANALYSIS
No player in the country made a bigger leap between his freshman and sophomore season than Alex Len. Unfortunately, his improvement was overshadowed by some less-than-stellar teammates. This season, the Ukrainian native averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks on 53-percent shooting. At the next level, with guards who can shoot the ball and control the tempo of the game, he could become a substantially better player.
Len has a rare combination of size, athleticism and skill. There aren't many 7'1, 255-pound centers with a 7'3 wingspan in the NBA. There are even fewer who have the ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball.
After adding over 25 pounds of muscle in this offseason, he came back to school with the size to finish over the top of anyone in college. He had his best games against high-level competition, with 23 points and 12 rebounds against Nerlens Noel and Kentucky and 19 points and nine rebounds against Mason Plumlee and Duke.
Teams with below-average centers rarely bothered to play Len straight up, not when they could pack the paint against a Maryland team that shot only 34 percent from three-point range. With no true point guard on their team, the Terrapins' halfcourt offense was an experiment in controlled chaos.
If he's playing with a good point guard next season, Len's finishing ability will make him an immediate threat on the pick-and-roll. He's even flashed the ability to step out and hit a mid-range jumper, a huge weapon for a player with his size and release point.
Len is no slouch on the defensive end either. While he doesn't have the high-level athleticism of Noel, he's capable of anchoring a defense and playing above the rim. He was named to the All-ACC defensive team, for whatever that's worth.
The big question is his surgically-repaired ankle, as he is currently out 4-6 months while recuperating from the procedure. Foot injuries for a player his size are a massive, massive red flag.
But if team doctors clear him medically, he'll be tempting to any team with the chance to draft him. 20-year old centers with a great frame and a lot of skill don't come around often. That's why I rate Len above Noel as a prospect.
DRAFT EXPRESS' SCOUTING REPORT
OTHER SB NATION SCOUTING REPORTS
Questions abounded whether Len's inconsistency was due to a general lack of toughness and killer drive, or the guards he was playing with at Maryland, who seemed incapable of feeding him the ball down low despite his ability to establish decent position. It didn't help Len's cause when news broke last week that he had been diagnosed immediately after the season with a partial stress fracture in his ankle, and that he had undergone surgery that would keep him out 4-6 months, meaning he'll miss pre-draft workouts, summer league and preseason games, and maybe even the first part of the regular season. In addition to the health concerns that come with leg injuries to any young big man, the universal expectation was that Len would have shined in individual workouts with teams running up to the draft, perhaps putting to rest some of the remaining concerns scouts have with his game. On the other hand, it was reported during the second half of the Terps' season that Len was playing with a sprained ankle; if he was in fact playing with the stress fracture, that might go a long way to explaining why he was so inconsistent down the stretch.
He will need at least a year before he can play in the NBA. If the team selecting him is smart, that will be in the D-League, but we've seen early picks thrust too early into the big leagues before.
The potential is undoubtedly there, and with it, it's easy to understand why teams want him. He's tall, has great length, is a plus shooter, and his defensive awareness is growing steadily. His biggest problem remains on the offensive side of the ball - he has NO idea what to do with himself in the post - but that can be taught (and weight can be put on). The comparisons to Nowitzki and Gasol will likely be endless, but that's pretty lazy. Instead, in a perfect world, I see him closer to Amare Stoudemire, with less inside explosiveness. Len is incredibly athletic, and can dunk with the best of them, and has that great outside shot to back him up. All he needs to work on is his game in the post - once he's got that, the rest is golden.
I really wonder how much of the glow about Len's "athletic potential" is failing to look past his impressive frame to the more basic dexterity, coordination, and awareness that separates successful project bigs from your annual second-round 7' stiff.
Statistically speaking, Len ranks sort of in the middle among college centers in just about every category. I struggle to understand how a massive man who fails to dominate when pitted against players 4 inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter will suddenly excel against his physical peers, but that seems to be the hope.
Alex Len is this season's feast-or-famine pick. The seven-footer has all the potential tools: he's a great athlete for his size, has impressive foot speed, a great touch around the rim -- with both hands -- and a high basketball IQ. On the defensive end, he's already a good pick and roll defender with potential as an elite rim-protector. Essentially, Alex Len have it all. However, there are concerns about whether those tools will come together in the NBA. Len is too thin to hold his own in the post and many scouts have questioned his toughness. Of course, that could just be scout-speak for "we don't know what to make of foreign players sometimes." Len's a high-potential player who probably won't develop into a full product for a few years. Luckily, most teams in the lottery aren't in "win-now" mode.
Alex Len is another big man with potential who will likely go in the lottery. He really improved from his freshman year at Maryland, improving his post scoring and his defense. Len isn't the best defensive rebounder, but he's a very good offensive rebounder, and there's some belief he was held back by Maryland's guards.
Alex Len is this year's Meyers Leonard in my opinion ... a physically-enticing big man who hasn't shown dominance at the college level, but one who many scouts believe could progress into a cornerstone at the low post for the right NBA team. Alex Len has great size and length, and a sturdy build. Still, he needs to add more strength at the next level as he has already had trouble being out-muscled at times by smaller opponents in college. Len's draft stock took a hit recently with an ankle surgery to correct a stress fracture that will now keep him out for the next four to six months. Prior to that he was a likely top 5-10 pick, but he may slide a bit now due to his injury.
For more coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA Draft 2013 section.