According to his agent, former Maryland Terrapins big man and potential lottery pick Alex Len will miss four to six months due to a partial stress fracture in his left ankle. The Ukrainian seven footer had surgery to stabilize the fracture today, ending any chance of Len partaking in pre-draft workouts.
The terrible news comes at a bad time for Len, considering many people thought he might rise up some NBA draft boards with good workouts. His finesse game is designed for the type of workouts held before the draft, and with the only other dominant big man (Nerlens Noel) out recovering from torn knee ligaments, Len stood a chance of potentially cementing himself into the top 3-6 picks. This news obviously rules out that possibility.
Injuries of this type are commonplace for big men who try to work out too much, too soon before the draft in order to bulk up. It’s important to make that distinction, because early foot injuries for seven foot big men are like a death sentence; they point to future injuries down the road. This one was an ankle, which is not quite the same thing. That he is young and they are having surgery already is usually a good sign that he’ll recover just fine, and it won’t be a regular recurrence throughout his career.
It remains to be seen if Len will fall out of the first round with this kind of injury, but that is something I highly doubt will occur. Len’s decision to leave College Park for the riches of the NBA probably looks smarter now than at any point in time. Had he missed that amount of time while still in college, there’s no way of knowing what would have happened to him in the future in terms of playing. Len is too good of a big man for one small injury to scare off plenty of teams. He may lose out on some money, but he isn’t going to lose out on getting drafted.
As it stands, Len may actually slide a bit further down and end up on some playoff caliber teams if people deem it that much of a red flag. That might end up being better for him in the long run, anyway. Being able to play alongside an elite guard would help his game tremendously.
Either way, you have to feel for the kid. It’s a long and arduous journey to the NBA, and to have it get derailed at the last second is unfortunate. Still, Len is a strong person, and he’ll get through it just fine. Let’s just hope he gets better as fast as possible.