Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said not knowing the draft position before the combine was unusual but didn’t dramatically alter their normal preparations.
“I don’t think we’re focusing on any one position. We’re going to see who’s out there,” Grunfeld said. “There are a lot of intriguing prospects, not only bigs but at every position, just like every year.”
Len said his meeting with the Wizards “went well” and he could possibly slide down to Washington if it is unable to move up in the draft. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds last season, playing the final two weeks of the season with a lower leg injury, and believes he showed enough in two seasons to warrant the investment of being selected high.
In Maryland’s season-opening loss to Kentucky, Len dominated his head-to-head duel with Noel by posting 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks while limiting Noel to just four points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Given all that he had to overcome his first year at Maryland — a massive language barrier that forced him to rely on gestures and facial expressions to communicate before he finally learned English and a 10-game suspension for violating NCAA amateurism guidelines — Len considers last season “kind of my freshman year in college.”
Len has already come a long way from when he started playing basketball at age 13 because a coach at school convinced him that a tall and lanky kid would have no future in gymnastics, his first sporting passion. He ditched the parallel bars, started dunking on rims and in a few weeks began making the game his career.
“I have a big upside and a good future and I'm really willing to learn,” Len said. “NBA been my dream since early age. I’ll glad to be here and also glad I got a chance to go to college in America. It helped me to adjust and learn the language. A lot of players that come over here, they have to go through the stuff I've already been through.”
Len will have to wait a few more months before he can contribute to his employer but he is willing to be patient. “I didn’t really have to do the surgery, but the doctor told me it was going to help me in the long run,” said Len, who had his cast and stitches removed last week. “I’m just trying to be proactive. Do the right things, be smart about it. When doctors tell me I’m ready to play, I will play. I want to have a long career in the NBA.”