With the ping-pong balls settled and the NBA draft’s lottery officially set, now begins the month-long lead-up to the actual event, held on June 27 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
On a more individual level, now we can start speculating about Alex Len’s landing spot. It’s unlikely that his partial stress fracture, which will sideline the former Maryland center for four to six months, will cause his stock to plummet out of the lottery altogether.
Projecting Len No. 3 overall to the hometown Washington Wizards is probably too high, and No. 12 to Oklahoma City might be too low, but anything in between seems fair game at this point. As the updated mock drafts came out out overnight, here’s where the experts predict Len will go:
Analysis: The Pelicans got their power forward of the future with Anthony Davis. Could Len be their center of the future? He might be a perfect complement to Davis. He’s more a skilled offensive player and should create a massive, young frontline for the Pelicans.
The Blazers need a starting center, and Len oozes potential. He’s a physical 5-man who rebounds well, protects the paint (2.1 blocks per game) and can play with his back to the basket. A stress fracture in his left ankle will keep him out of individual workouts, and that could hurt his stock; teams would like to see some signs of a diverse offensive game. But that could work well for Portland, which needs some muscle alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.
The big man from the Ukraine is incredibly skilled for a 7-footer, and Michael Jordan’s franchise is in desperate need of a center who can score in the post.
The Timberwolves have a promising young roster and could groom Len behind [center Nikola] Pekovic for a few seasons. Len shows the agility to get up and down the floor, make plays at the rim and the touch to knock down shots from mid range. While some may knock his fluidity, toughness and consistency, bigs take time. For a 20 year old who is still adjusting to American culture, being away from Ukraine where he grew up, his sophomore season was excellent. His stress fracture came at a bad time as teams won’t get the chance to see him work out leading up to the draft, but he doesn’t figure to fall very far. Len is the classic boom or bust pick that teams in the mid lottery will be afraid to take as well as not miss on. NBA Comparison: Jonas Valanciunas
Phoenix isn’t going anywhere fast, so there’s more than enough time for Len to learn about life in the middle and perhaps become a solid, long-term solution for a team with many holes.
So New Orleans? Maybe?
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