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June 17, 2013

Thoughts on Maryland center Alex Len as he meets with the Charlotte Bobcats

            I’ve interviewed Maryland center Alex Len once. I walked away from that conversation thinking this guy has a lot of confidence.

            It was the draft combine in Chicago last month. Len told a circle of reporters that years from now people would look back on the 2013 draft and see him as the clearly best player.

            It doesn’t particularly matter what Len thinks, but I liked that he said that. If you’re going to use a top-five pick on a player, then he should think he’s going to kick everyone’s butt over time.

            Len is in Charlotte Tuesday to meet with the Bobcats and to have a follow-up appointment with foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.  Anderson operated on Len’s left ankle in April to stabilize a partial stress fracture. Because of that injury, Len can’t work out for the Bobcats, just like Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel (torn ACL) and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett (rotator cuff) can’t.

            I find Len an intriguing candidate for the Bobcats’ pick, fourth overall. There aren’t a lot of real centers anymore. Len is 7-foot and he knows how to score in a variety of ways – post-up, pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop. He averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore.

      He had an uneven season with the Terrapins, but I saw that as much about circumstance as a reflection of Len’s potential.

            The college game, compared to the NBA, is overly dominated by guards. They dribble around endlessly, often oblivious to what the big men are doing to try to get open. That’s partially the reason N.C. State never got all it should have from J.J. Hickson, another post-up big man who left school early.

            Frankly, I thought Maryland’s guards were knuckleheads not to better use the threat Len was.

            Len gets nuance. He instinctively would slide left or right, in reaction to the defense, to find an open spot on the floor or to create a rebounding lane. That sounds obvious, but watch the way most college big men never get that. It’s clear he was well coached growing up in the Ukraine.

            Certainly the Bobcats could use a low-post scorer, plus another at-the-rim defender. They’ve never been very good at either one.

            I asked a longtime scout from another lottery team if Len should be a serious candidate for the Bobcats’ fourth pick. In reply the scout asked if I saw any of Maryland’s early-season game against Kentucky.

            “Did you see him blow up Noel?’’ the scout asked.

            I hadn’t but I saw the numbers. Len finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Noel finished with four points, nine rebounds and three blocks. One game is a snapshot, but it’s clear that scout left that game thinking Len will do just fine in the NBA.

Posted by Observer Sports on June 17, 2013 at 09:53 PM | Permalink


The more I study this draft, the more I would like to see Alex Len as a BOBCAT. If the trade down with Minnesota for 9 and 26 will not work, then take him at 4. Trade for T. Robinson of Houston for a 2nd round pick. If they could sneak in D. Williams for T. Thomas (even better). Then you have a c. pf to go with MKG, Hendo, and Kemba. Possibility of three top 15 players next year and the Bobcats would have a good young roster with potential. Build through the draft and stay on course. Len is 7-1. You can not teach height. Len is 7-1.

Posted by: Glenn | Jun 17, 2013 10:20:56 PM

Why would anyone trade for Tyrus Thomas?

Posted by: OffTheRadar | Jun 17, 2013 10:38:21 PM

I like your analysis Rick. Len and Biyombo would be a good tandem at center. I hope they resign McRoberts too, and trade for Thomas Robinson.

Posted by: Hugo Panther | Jun 18, 2013 6:11:31 AM

Not sure how you keep the pick and swing a trade for Robinson. You would have to give up a future pick. Not a good idea.

Take Len, Noel or Zeller and just hold on until next year. With those 3 number ones you would have...

2014 1st rounder
2014 1st rounder
2014 1st rounder

Add in whatever free agents they pursue and you will have a roster with talent by next year. Might possibly have Henderson and or McRoberts as well.

Posted by: Bobnet | Jun 18, 2013 6:59:46 AM

@Bobnet - HOU is looking to dump T-Rob to provide salary relief. They are clogged with PFs. General consensus is that he likely can be had for a future 2nd rounder (HOU doesn't want to add any near term salary commitments in their pursuit of Howard or Paul) - they won't be looking for much more.

Posted by: Zed_Naught | Jun 18, 2013 7:21:28 AM

I agree that getting rid of Thomas is only wishful thinking. I agree with these post more than any I have seen. It makes sense to draft BIG this year, and if things fall right, the three picks next year could really make the Bobcats/Hornets a competitive team. I don't see a BIG in next years draft as good as the three mentioned above. Bobnet's list could give them ten players (if the keep Henderson, McRoberts an/or McMullens) Zed is right too that Houston does not want much for T. Robinson (2nd pick at best or a no trade).
There are also many people available to fill roster spots from 11 through 15.

Posted by: Glenn | Jun 18, 2013 8:21:50 AM

i HATE how the pro-len committee always points to his game vs. noel. that was noel's FIRST COLLEGE GAME as a true freshmen vs. hyped sophomore len. that's a BAD snapshot.

i need quotes from dr. anderson on that ankle surgery. had no idea he did the surgery and I just saw that dude not too long ago.

I also hate the idea that len's mediocrity at maryland had everything to do with the guard play and nothing to do with him. if he had elite guard play (like noel did) then that would simultaneously take away from his numbers also. and if he was REALLY a top 5 talent, turgeon would have benched every guard on the roster who didn't throw him the ball. there is no way i'm buying that as an accurate depiction of what happened there.

NEVER has that been an acceptable excuse. people harped on barnes last year for mediocre rebounding numbers and i always pointed out how carolina led the nation in rebounding and clearly zeller/henson/mcadoo took some rebounds off the table for barnes. so if I used the same logic here......len being mediocre at anything would only be acceptable if he had elite teammates taking away from his performance and that's just not the case.

don't get me wrong. you can be an nba talent and not shine in college. no effing question. danny green is staring us in the face right now. but you can't be a top 5 pick and be mediocre in college. not unless you put up the kind of numbers he had as a true freshmen. that would make him noel. doing it as a sophomore and stat stuffing against this year's small acc centers (most of whom were around 6-8) does not equate to top 5 pick.

he IS no question an nba center and probably a starter. but a star? no effing way. zeller has so much more potential and noel has way more than that. if noel falls to them without major medical news coming out and they go len over noel.......sad.

Posted by: charlottean | Jun 18, 2013 9:07:06 AM

Charlottean, you are just plain wrong on this one. Len is the premeir talent in this draft. He will be an NBA star. He is a solid real center. We should take him and have not a single question when we do it. It is a no brainer.

Posted by: Funkthis | Jun 18, 2013 9:18:43 AM

why do fanbase over look player that will be the best 3 yrs down the road from this draft clearly the best low player scorer in class of 2013 draft Anthony Bennett: we need talent over an average at best center in Lin all because he is 7'1 heck he is an upgraded Primo Brezec remind him LOL!!!!! Bennett should be ya target if you cant land an prove franshise charger!!!! period...

Posted by: jayrock | Jun 18, 2013 10:02:44 AM

Len is not good. If you can't domintate in college (against average players who are not nearly 7 foot guarding you), you won't dominate in the league. Take Mclemore if he's there, or Anthony Bennet. For a team that needs scoring, both of them are the best at their positions.
Brook Lopez, one of the best "fundamental" bigs to come out the past few years, never had any kind of guard help, but he dominated the post and put up numbers.

Posted by: Feelin the Buzz Alread | Jun 18, 2013 10:43:11 AM

and brook lopez was drafted 10th and hasn't won much of anything........even with an absolutely stacked roster this past year they lost to an injury depleted chicago team.

lopez gave you 20 and 8 as a sophomore WHILE PLAYING WITH HIS BROTHER. len gave you 12 and 8 while playing with nobody and going against "centers" like mcadoo (6-8 nba small forward material).

if len is no doubt nowhere near as good as lopez. how could you justify drafting him 4th?

If we traded down and took him 9th or 10th. I'd be fine with him as the pick. but taking him 4th? no effing way.

There is ZERO precedent of a player coming out early after having that mediocre of a college showing and having success in the nba. SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE ME ONE EXAMPLE OF THAT EVER HAPPENING EVER. Byron mullens was more impressive in college.

if you put biyombo on maryland's team last year in the acc, he gives you 20 and 13 and probably 40 blocks a game. biyombo is less than a year older than len.

there is NO question when looking at the comparison between len and zeller. and even less of a question looking at noel vs. len. only question in my eyes is noel vs. zeller and that's only because of the health ? mark.

Posted by: charlottean | Jun 18, 2013 11:33:19 AM

Well, that's hyperbole about Biyombo, but I agree that Len wouldn't even be discussed as a top 5 pick in a stronger draft. Even in this draft, he's top 10, at best. If I'm a GM, no way do I use a top 5 pick on him...although it sounds like someone will. Just hoping it's not Charlotte. I see him as being and 8 and 6 guy for his career with maybe a couple of years getting around 12 and 8 in his prime. Spencer Hawes comes to mind.

Posted by: Don | Jun 18, 2013 3:06:20 PM

Just wonderin"...can Kidd-Gilchhrist defend the 2?

Posted by: KATDADDY | Jun 18, 2013 4:40:06 PM

Mkg cannot defend the two. Len is the best player in the draft when it comes to impact . It takes longer for huge bigs to develop . His low post game is very good . That means he will command a double team which will make all the difference . He , unlike Bennett plays both ends . He's a defender a rim protector . It's a no brainier . Biz has to be replaced . You can get a pf next yr or thru free agency faster than a center .

Posted by: Iron man | Jun 19, 2013 8:00:53 AM

MKG can't defend the 2? MKG defending the 1 at times last year.

1-4 he's fine. and i'm not sure that's severe hyperbole about biyombo. I mean there was NOBODY in the acc last year playing the 5. literally nobody. plumlee and len. there aren't even many euro prospects let alone nba prospects in the post. catch and dunk would have been all over the menu for biyombo. should have been for len.

Posted by: charlottean | Jun 19, 2013 11:09:45 AM

Dieng from Lousiville ! Champion Big Man and great athlete ! What did Len win in College ?

Posted by: chris in union county | Jun 19, 2013 2:18:27 PM

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