Alex Len has appeared in just 12 games for the Phoenix Suns and played a total of 83 minutes, so it’s fair to say no one has had a real good look at the number five pick out of Maryland.
Sidelined the entire offseason and then for the majority of his rookie season thus far due to ankle issues, Len’s impact on the team’s surprising start has been minimal at best.
But in Sunday’s win over the Denver Nuggets, Len came off the bench and scored nine points while pulling down six rebounds in a career-high 16 minutes of action.
“I think you guys are finally starting to see the real Alex Len and who Alex Len can be,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough told the Burns and Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “He’s a guy that we were extremely high on in the draft.”
McDonough pointed to Len’s combination of size and athletic ability, as he stands in at 7-foot-1 and 255-pounds, as reason to be excited about his future.
“He’s got a nice touch with both hands around the basket,” the GM mused. “I think the thing that he’s done the best is rebounding. He hasn’t played a lot of minutes, but he’s rebounded at a high rate per minute.”
Indeed, Len is averaging 13 rebounds per 36 minutes, which ranks first on the Suns. And as McDonough noted, that number does not include the times Len tips the ball out to a teammate to extend a possession.
“I guess one of the silver linings, I think, with Alex, is that when he was injured with the ankles he was able to do a lot of work in the weight room, especially with his upper body,” McDonough said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger. I think early in the year he was getting pushed around some on the block and I think now, because his ankle is healing and also because of the additional weight room work, you’re seeing him be able to hold his position in the post and you’re starting to see some of the results.”
The hope is this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Len and his future, now that the ankle issues are hopefully a thing of the past.
“He’s a guy, I think you guys will start to see his skill more and more as he gets stronger and more confident,” McDonough added. “He’s a pretty good passer from the post, he’s also a pretty good shooter for a seven-footer, so you’ll see us start to run more offense through him.
“I think once the game slows down for him a little bit, you’ll start to see his offensive touch and some of the skill come out.”