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Suns GM: Alex Len can be a difference-maker in the paint

LISTEN: Ryan McDonough- Suns general manager

Chosen by the Phoenix Suns with the fifth pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, center Alex Len came into the desert with high expectations.

After an injury-plagued rookie year and 2014 offseason, Len has been short on opportunities to prove that he was worth that high pick.

But with the Suns 119-99 opening-game victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, a new season starts for Len and hopes abound that he will become an interior force in Phoenix.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was a guest Thursday with Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, and he said the team envisions a great improvement for Len in his second year, and Wednesday’s win was a great start for the center.

“I think per minute, he was our best guy in terms of plus-minus. He played about 18 or 19 minutes and I believe he was a plus-25,” said McDonough. “Not only his ability to protect the rim, but his ability to move his feet, at 7-foot-1, with his length is pretty unique.”

Len finished the game with only three points, but picked up five rebounds and one blocked shot while maintaining the middle in relief of starter Miles Plumlee. After missing all but one game of the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League with a broken bone in his hand, Len is now healthy and will be expected to earn more minutes within the rotation.

“There will be a bit of a learning curve for him, especially on the offensive end, but I think he saw the difference his defense and rebounding and shot blocking and rim protection had last night,” said McDonough. “Hopefully that continues because that’ll be huge for us if we can have another guy to do that along with Miles.”

The Suns next game is Friday at 7 p.m., when Phoenix hosts the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, with coverage on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.