The Phoenix Suns’ top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Alex Len, spent most of his summer rehabbing from his second ankle surgery of the calendar year. He was able to return to the court and practice with his new teammates just days before the team began training camp at the beginning of October.
Due to the Suns’ depth at the center position, general manager Ryan McDonough told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo Wednesday that the team doesn’t need to rush the Maryland product’s development.
“We’re trying to be patient with Alex, but you’re starting to see it [his health] come back,” McDonough said. “One of the things that we liked about him in the draft was his agility — his mobility at 7-foot-1, that he’s able to run the floor and move his feet, offensively and defensively.
“So you’re seeing some of that come back. And now he’s starting to play above the rim again; he’s getting his lift back as well.”
Eight-year veteran Marcin Gortat returns to the Suns as the starting center, and other than Len, Miles Plumlee and Viacheslav “Slava” Kravstov add depth in the middle for the team.
“So we feel like with Marcin Gortat as the starter and Miles Plumlee backing him up, we have two guys who are, you know, one’s an above-average starter and one’s an above-average backup, and we’re fine there,” the first-year general manager said. “And we can be patient with Alex. Obviously, his development is very important to us going forward; but, at the same time, we’re not going to rush him and throw him out there before he’s physically ready to play.”
McDonough added that Plumlee has been one of the team’s “pleasant surprises” so far. The 6-foot-11 Duke alum is entering his second season in the league, having played for the Indiana Pacers as a rookie. He has averaged 6.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, one block and 50 percent shooting in 17.5 minutes per game through the team’s first six preseason contests.
Len has played in five of the Suns’ six preseason games heading into Wednesday, mostly putting in between 10 and 15 minutes per contest, although he did get 25 minutes of run against San Antonio. He is averaging 2.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 37.5 percent shooting in 15.4 minutes in the preseason. McDonough reported the rookie center says he isn’t feeling pain anymore in his ankles.
“From the beginning of training camp to now, even, you’re seeing the progress with him,” McDonough said of Len’s health. “He’s feeling really good.”