Now that the NBA Draft order is all set, it’s worth playing the guessing game of where Maryland center Alex Len could end up. This year’s draft is wide open due to the fact that there isn’t a clear-cut number-one choice as there was a season ago with Anthony Davis. There’s plenty of teams that could use a player of Len’s caliber and he could be extremely productive if he lands in a good situation. Alongside guard Dez Wells, Len was arguably the Terrapins’ best player during the 2012-2013 season. The Ukrainian big man averaged 11.9 points-per-game and 7.8 assists-per-game to go along with 2.1 blocks-per-game. We saw Len being absolutely dominant at times (abusing Nerlens Noel to the tune of 23 and 12) to looking pretty pedestrian on several occasions (scoring only 8 combined points in losses to Florida State and Boston College). It may take Len a few seasons to get adjusted to the professional game but he has the potential to be very good.
Let’s take a look at the possible landing spots for Len:
Washington – The Wizards were able to move up in the lottery and secure the third pick in the draft. A year removed from selecting guard Bradley Beal, it looks like the hometown Wizards have their backcourt shored up with Beal and John Wall at the point. That leaves two possible positions that they could look to in the draft. Washington could solidify the wing with Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. or improve on the interior with a guy like UNLV forward Anthony Bennett or Len. It would be a very interesting scenario if the Wizards drafted the hometown prospect in Len. It’s not a popular pick at the number-three spot, but isn’t exactly a huge stretch. Some analysts are speculating that Len could be the best prospect in this draft class. Nene and Emeka Okafor currently occupy the middle and aren’t getting any younger. Len could see a decent amount of minutes at the center position and could significantly change the Wizards offense for the better.
Charlotte (#4) – The Bobcats (soon-to-be Hornets again) have a ton of low post players on the roster but not many with potential. Byron Mullens (10.6 points-per-game) and 2011 first round pick Bismack Biyombo (4.8 points-per-game and 7.3 rebounds-per-game) are the only ones worth noting and who knows if Biyombo will ever develop a scoring touch. The Bobcats could roll with this duo for another season and see what happens or they could pull the trigger on Len with the fourth pick. He would provide scoring ability that Charlotte lacks and a defensive presence superior to Mullens.
New Orleans (#6) – The center position isn’t a glaring need for the Pelicans (man that feels weird to type). Anthony Davis has solidified the power forward spot for the next 10 years but Robin Lopez isn’t exactly lighting the fire at center. The other Lopez brother put up solid numbers this past season but hasn’t been too impressive over his career (7.3 points-per-game and 3.9 rebounds-per-game). With New Orleans, Len could be eased into the lineup and have a big impact on a young team. The combination of Davis and Len could form a potentially dominating duo for years to come.
Sacramento (#7) – The Kings haven’t had a tremendous impact of success through the draft in recent years. In terms of low post players, Sacramento has selected troubled center DeMarcus Cousins and power forward Jason Thompson. Neither has really lived up to their first round billing and an upgrade could be had. It’s long been rumored that the Kings are interested in moving Cousins due to his immaturity. Who knows if it will actually come to fruition, but they don’t have much quality depth down low. Len could almost instantly start at the power forward spot. Thompson would be a better fit coming off the bench and is an active player that can still give the Kings quality minutes. Len, possibly along with Cousins, would give the Kings a pair of seven-footers that can alter a very high amount of shots.
Philadelphia (#11) – The Sixers are a wild card spot for Len to land. If he doesn’t go in the top 10, I would tend to think that the Sixers would pounce on the Terps product with the 11th pick. Philadelphia gambled with acquiring center Andrew Bynum and if they don’t re-sign the former Laker center, they will definitely be in the market for a big man. Philly hasn’t had a productive center since Dikembe Mutombo manned the middle during the glory days of Allen Iverson and company. Len is an immediate upgrade over Spencer Hawes on both ends of the floor and would bring a shot-blocking presence that the Sixers have lacked.
Dallas (#13) – The Mavericks don’t have much quality depth down low and could use a youth movement. Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman certainly aren’t spring chickens anymore and Dallas needs to start thinking about their future replacements. If Len is drafted by the Mavericks, it would give him a chance to slowly learn about the NBA game and not be rushed into a situation. It would give Len the opportunity to learn from one of the most offensively gifted big men of all time in Nowitzki.