Triano: Suns’ Alex Len playing with desperation in contract year

Nov 21, 2017, 12:01 PM
Phoenix Suns center Alex Len, right, rebounds against Portland Trail Blazers forward Ed Davis durin...
Phoenix Suns center Alex Len, right, rebounds against Portland Trail Blazers forward Ed Davis during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. The Trail Blazers won 114-107. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
(AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
LISTEN: Jay Triano, Suns Interim Head Coach

Simplicity can often breed success and that formula appears to have worked for Phoenix Suns center Alex Len.

“We have asked him to be engaged but in a smaller amount of space,” head coach Jay Triano told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

The Suns drafted the 24-year-old Len fifth overall in the 2013 draft, but he had yet to translate into a consistent NBA player, until this season anyways. Len has averaged 9.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, both career highs, in 17 games.

After taking the qualifying offer in restricted free agency to make him an unrestriced free agent next offseason, head coach Jay Triano said Len has played with “a little bit of desperation.”

“I think he is looking at where he is in his career and the chance that he is going to be a free agent,” Triano said.

Len is in the final year of his contract and the Suns have patiently waited for the Ukrainian to develop into the player that was worthy of the Suns’ No. 5 overall selection.

But he only averaged 6.9 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game in his first four seasons, while seeing his minutes per game decrease by three from 2015-16 to 2016-17.

Sometimes less is more and Triano said that has helped Len play with confidence on the court this season.

“We have kept the game simple for Alex,” Triano said. “We have asked him to do fewer things then he has been asked to do in the past — run spaced lines, set great screens, roll to the basket and rebound everything that is round.”

Not only has Len appeared to embrace his role, he has excelled specifically in two of the areas Triano mentioned; as the roll-man on the pick-and-roll and on the glass.

Len has run an effective two-man game with guards, and as a result, nobody has scored more points per possession as the roll-man in the league then Len (1.6) with a minimum of 25 possessions prior to Monday’s action. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz is second at 1.47 points per possession followed by Julius Randle of the Los Angeles Lakers at 1.41.

In addition, Len’s rebounding is one reason why the Suns rank sixth in rebounds per game at 47.4. Len tied a career-high with 18 rebounds in the Suns’ win over the Lakers Friday and has improved his rebounding percentage from 17.5 last year to 20.2 this season.

“He’s a tenacious rebounder,” Triano said. “He kind of secured the game for us. We had to put him back in late in the game just to make sure when they missed, we were going to end up with the basketball.”

Penguin Air


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at the start of the the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23...
Associated Press

2022-23 NBA schedule clears Election Day of games

The NBA's schedule for the coming season will have all 30 teams playing on Nov. 7, the night before the midterm elections.
1 day ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks jump for the ope...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get rematch vs. Mavericks on opening night, per report

The Phoenix Suns' regular season will begin at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
2 days ago
The Phoenix Suns mascot "The Gorilla" on the court before NBA game against the Golden State Warrior...
Arizona Sports

Report: Phoenix Suns to play Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day

The Phoenix Suns will head to Denver to face the Nuggets on Christmas Day this upcoming season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported. 
3 days ago
Bill Russell, left, star of the Boston Celtics is congratulated by coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach afte...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA retires No. 6 jerseys, to add jersey patch honoring late Bill Russell

Bill Russell's No. 6 jersey is the first to be retired across the NBA. Players will wear the patch on the shoulders this year.
6 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of Game One of the Western Confere...
Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s NBA staff still mighty high on 2022-23 Phoenix Suns

If you were wondering why the Suns have attacked the offseason with tinkering, it might be time to remember the past two full seasons.
7 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety Marc...
Arizona Sports

Larry Fitzgerald, Pedro Gomez in 2022 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class

Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and late journalist Pedro Gomez are among the 2022 class entering the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
7 days ago
Triano: Suns’ Alex Len playing with desperation in contract year