- Measurables: 7-foot-1, 255 pounds, sophomore center from Maryland.
- Key Stats: 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game on 53.4% shooting.
- Projected: Lottery pick
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Len struggled a lot when moving from Ukraine to America to play basketball for Maryland. One of the funniest things he did was asking his barber for a buzz cut because he didn’t know how to ask for anything else. He also needed to use a translator to order rotisserie chicken from Boston Market at one point because he couldn’t speak English.
Len’s first name isn’t Alex, either, it’s Olexiy. Once he moved to America, however, he changed it to Alex so it was easier for people to understand.
Fits with the Pistons because …
The Pistons have Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond filling out their front court, but Alex Len could come in and be the team’s third big since, as of right now the other big man on the Pistons bench is Viacheslav Kravtsov, who I love, but not because he’s good at basketball. Bringing in Len would be a huge relief for Monroe and Drummond, as they can’t play 48 minutes every game. Len could be a huge contributor off the bench and it could even help himself develop at a slower pace than being thrown right into a team’s system.
He’s also one of the few big men in this draft that is a stellar defender. He has a 7-foot-1 body with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and he uses that to his advantage. Drummond and Monroe are still developing as defenders (though Drummond’s shot-blocking makes him much further along), so Len will help that cause.
Len’s also a pretty good outside shooter for a seven-footer. Although he puts the ball on the floor at a fairly frequent rate, the upside of his shooting is the trade off you get.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
Well, there’s a flip side to this whole thing. Len is a big man, and that’s where the Pistons don’t need as much help as they do in their backcourt. Len entered the draft early and may not get optimal playing time in Detroit as opposed to if he goes to another team that needs him more. Obviously, there could be a jam with three really talented big men all wanting adequate playing time when not all three of them can have it.
From the Experts:
I spent some time this week with a number of international scouts who all had the same question for me: Why isn’t Len in the mix to be the No. 1 pick? If you watched a lot of Maryland games, you already know the answer, but the scouts’ perspectives were interesting. In international play Len was dominant, but if someone like Jonas Valanciunas had played in Maryland’s system, it’s likely that his numbers would’ve been better than Len’s. While I doubt that Len will get the nod over Noel (unless there are more complications with his ACL), I could see teams that are desperate for a big man taking Len at No. 2 or No. 3. Virtually every team in the mix for Noel could end up having Len as Plan B on draft night if he has strong workouts.
Defensively, Len shows great potential with his size, long arms and mobility, but is still somewhat of a work in progress at this stage. On one hand he shows the ability to hedge screens out on the perimeter thanks to his quick feet and excellent agility, stepping out and recovering back to protect the rim and being difficult to shoot over thanks to his excellent length. On the other hand, his intensity-level leaves something to be desired at times, as he doesn’t always get a hand up on opponents, can be lackadaisical running the floor, and will give up deep post position inside the paint, allowing himself to get schooled by more experienced opponents.
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