The Great Alex Len v. Miles Plumlee Debate


Since December 17 the Phoenix Suns have rattled off eight victories in 10 games to catapult their record from 12-14 to 20-16 and there may be one simple reason to what sparked this run for the Suns.

Coach Jeff Hornacek made a change in the starting rotation before the Suns game in Charlotte on December 17. Hornacek moved Miles Plumlee, who had started 25 of the first 26 games, from the starting center position to the bench and Alex Len’s name was called to join the starting rotation.

With Len grouped with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, and Markieff in the starting lineup the Suns have been scorching hot. The differential in minutes given to Len over Plumlee in the past three weeks isn’t all that substantial, but it is a step in the right direction.

Dec 14, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Phoenix Suns center Miles Plumlee (22) attempts a shot against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When you compare the two players’ numbers side-by-side they are nearly identical. Through Sunday night’s game against Toronto, Plumlee is averaging 5.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 56.2%. Comparatively, Len is putting up 5.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 55.1%.

The biggest difference between the two is the effectiveness of Len as he is posting similar numbers to Plumlee while playing 2.5 less minutes per game on average (21.6 for Plumlee, 19.1 for Len). Since December 17, Len is getting 21.2 minutes of playing time while Plumlee is only receiving 19.1 minutes.

Altogether, Len has been a lot more productive than Plumlee this year. The 7’1” second-year center out of Maryland has averaged 7.4 points on 66.7% shooting, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game in the past 15 days highlighted by a double-double against Sacramento, a 17-point performance against Dallas, and a career-high in blocks with six against Philadelphia.

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On a team that lacks size outside of Len and Plumlee health is a priority. Hornacek’s platoon with the two centers has paid dividends as both players seem fresh on a nightly basis. Having the time-share between the two will pay off down the stretch if the Suns are in the playoff chase.

If Hornacek were to give Len extended minutes over the next month the results would not disappoint as the Suns have begin to find their groove with Len as their starting big man however. Imagine if Len was given 25-28 minutes per game to showcase his terrific blocking ability and to show-off his improved post moves.

In the end it will come down to match ups, the health of the two centers, and whether or not one or the other is in foul trouble on that particular evening to see who will get the majority of minutes. Most importantly, the Suns should not feel pressured to trade one of their three point guards for a big man as Len and Plumlee have showed that they can, as a unit, hold their weight for the 2014-2015 Phoenix Suns.

What do you think the Suns should do with the center position?

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