Phoenix Suns center Alex Len is heading into his third season in the NBA and is still looking to develop his game. The 7’1” big man was drafted by Phoenix with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but hasn’t quite lived up to the high expectation of a top draft pick.
In the 2014-15 season, Len averaged 6.3 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game in 69 games played and 44 starts. Looking at his numbers, the rebound numbers are a bit concerning. For a center who is over seven feet tall, averaging around six rebounds per game seems a bit low.
Rebounds are very important for a center and Len needs to improve on that aspect of his game. For a center to average less than seven rebounds per game is not good enough. It was Len’s first year as the Suns’ full-time starter at the center position, so the 22-year-old does have a lot of room to grow.
Len has also dealt with the injury bug the first two years of his career, mainly with his ankles. Since being drafted, Len has missed some significant time due to a sore ankle on multiple occasions, a fractured finger in October of 2014, a sprained right ankle in February and then a unfortunate broken nose in April.
While it doesn’t seem like he gets hurt all the time, Len’s ankle injuries caused him to miss significant time during the season. His ankles still remain a concern. Weak ankles for a big man could always backfire at any time.
Apr 8, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks centerTyson Chandler
(6) dunks the ball after receiving a pass from guardRajon Rondo
(9) during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
This upcoming season will be an interesting one for Len. The Suns went out this offseason and signed veteran center Tyson Chandler to a four-year $52 million deal.
This means that Len will certainly be coming off the bench and Chandler will be starting. Some might think that Len moving to the bench might hurt his growth. But I think that he will learn and grow playing behind a guy like Chandler.
Chandler has a great amount of experience and much to teach Len and every other young player on the Suns roster. Chandler has played for team USA in the Olympics, been a part of the playoffs and won an NBA championship.
So even while Len’s in-game role will be somewhat diminished, look for his game to really develop. Len will have to go up against Chandler in every practice, which will be a good chance to learn how to go up against some of the NBA’s best big men.
While Len’s young career has been a bit of a disappointment, look for him to really begin developing his game starting this season.