The last time we gathered to review where Alex Len would land in the eyes of various NBA draft gurus, there was sweeping dissension. Some predicted Len would go high in the June 27 draft, that some team simply couldn’t pass up his raw skills and potential upside. Others had Len slipping toward the lottery’s end, reasoning that teams would either have better options or would shy away due to his partial stress fracture.
Now, exactly three weeks away from the actual, real-life draft, there seems to still be, for better or worse, little consensus over Len. As he crisscrosses the country visiting NBA teams — he was in Phoenix on Wednesday — here’s where the big names are projecting Len to go.
The Blazers should be thrilled about Len falling this far because he could, in theory, go in the top five. So they should take him and feel good about playing him next to LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Pelicans will take a long, hard look at both [Michigan guard Trey] Burke and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams. But I’m not sure they’ll bite. This team drafted Austin Rivers last year to be its point guard of the future and sources say that the team hasn’t given up on Rivers, despite a miserable rookie season. With Greivis Vasquez also in the backcourt, point guard isn’t a huge need if they’re happy with Vasquez and Rivers. That makes Len an attractive option here.
The Pelicans see Anthony Davis as a 4 in the NBA and aren’t convinced Robin Lopez is the long-term answer at the 5. Len has enormous potential at the 5. He can score, rebound and block shots. If his foot wasn’t injured, I think he’d get much more consideration at No. 1. He could be a steal for the Pelicans here.
Despite winning just 35 percent of their games since entering the league nine years ago, the Bobcats don’t look any closer to exiting NBA purgatory than they did upon their inception, and falling two spots to the No. 4 spot in the draft won’t help matters. Their roster remains lacking in many ways with no immediate fix in clear sight. With solid pieces in place at point guard and small forward, the Bobcats will likely look closely at starting caliber shooting guards, power forwards and centers; their three biggest areas of need at the moment.
The Bobcats will also explore trade opportunities to see if any established talent is available to be absorbed thanks to their favorable cap situation. Adding proven players through free agency has proven to be difficult. With little separation between the top prospects at this stage, the Bobcats are reportedly considering attempting to fill a major need at the center position with the 7-1 Len. The Maryland product is a skilled and highly athletic big man who may have the most upside of any player in this draft. This pick will certainly be up for grabs as we’re likely looking at a situation similar to last year where no one really knew which direction Charlotte was leaning until the pick was actually made. (Blurb via Yahoo!)
With Rich Cho in charge of the Bobcats, the decision will likely be to address Charlotte’s putrid offense. The Bobcats were 26th in scoring and 27th in 3-point shooting, two areas where Oladipo could help right away. With Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Bobcats would like to slide someone between them and complement their skill sets.
With Alex Len, Anthony Bennett and Ben McLemore, the Bobcats would have a conundrum on which way to go with the pick. Bennett would give them the inside-outside threat they’re looking for up front. But if they’re committed to Bismack Biyombo, it would form a very undersized duo inside.
McLemore’s shooting would be a welcome addition, but growing concerns around McLemore could push him down Charlotte’s list of top targets. That would leave Len, who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, as the preference at this point.
Len would give the Bobcats the inside presence they have lacked and would fit in well next to Biyombo, allowing him to roam the paint defensively. Len’s offensive game would give the Bobcats some immediate help, and he still has room to develop.
This would be a pick with the future in mind, as Len will take patience and time to reach his full potential. Len has drawn comparisons to Zydrunas Ilgauskas with his skills and length and is already a very good rebounder and shot-blocker.