Eight hours remain until Alex Len gets drafted first overall, or maybe fourth, or perhaps sixth, but honestly really who knows. Since the former Maryland center declared for the NBA draft in April, he’s shot up the draft boards, sparking rumors that the Cleveland Cavaliers will consider making Len the first overall pick.
Here’s where all the experts stand on their current mock drafts, with the obvious asterisk that teams are still shopping picks, particularly given the lack of transcendent or superstar talent. Plus, whatever Cleveland does tips the first domino. Remember, Kyrie Irving didn’t know the Cavs were taking him until David Stern stepped to the lectern two years ago.
The Pelicans could go with a point guard but Len remains one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. Len is recovering from a stress fracture in his left ankle but could form a formidable front court with Anthony Davis.
The Suns’ primary need is a scoring wing, but if Oladipo and McLemore are off the board, don’t be surprised if the Suns grab Len here. New general manager Ryan McDonough is a fan of Len’s, and with Marcin Gortat heading into the last year of his deal, Len quite literally could become the centerpiece of the franchise. Michael Carter-Williams and [Cody] Zeller also are real possibilities here.
The Ukrainian big man has NBA size and length and is arguably the most polished offensive big man in the draft. He has tremendous potential and could be a contributor right away.
Nikola Pekovic insurance, combined with their lack of depth. This isn’t difficult. I have concerns about Len’s ceiling but I like him in Adelman’s system more than any other.
I realize this is lower than some have Len going, but it’s still higher than I think he should go. Simply put, I just don’t love guys who accomplish little and aren’t consistently great through two years of college. And Len accomplished little and wasn’t consistently great through two years at Maryland.
We’re hearing that it’s more and more likely that if Cleveland keeps the pick that Len will be their choice. The Cavs continue to aggressively shop the pick along with other assets in an attempt to add a talented bigman. Attempts for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love have been unsuccessful. Dallas is trying to move up using 13 and Marion as bait. Cleveland is in a very difficult position winning the top pick in a year devoid of an obvious franchise level talent. They have a need for a 3 but there isn’t a player with the upside to justify the selection at their pick. Len is a big risk, but gives them a potential top 5 center in the league if he reaches his potential.
They are said to be unhappy with last year’s mid-first rounder Tyler Zeller, and don’t see him as an eventual starter. The Cavs continue to shop the pick but suitors continue to low ball them as no GM wants to take on the expectations associated with using the top pick. Though he’s been unable to work out for teams, his early season performance dominating both Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley Stein remains fresh in scout’s minds. 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 weren’t able to see him work out leading up to the draft, but not being able to work out prospects never stopped them before.
The Bobcats badly need a big man to shore up a frontcourt that ranked among the worst scoring and rebounding units in the league last season. The uber-talented Bennett will be considered strongly because, as one league executive said, “Teams are a little scared to pass him up.” But two rival executives believe that Len — a physical center who rebounds well, protects the paint (2.1 blocks) and can play with his back to the basket — is on the rise, despite the fact that a stress fracture in his left ankle has kept him out of individual workouts. And remember this: New coach Steve Clifford has an excellent reputation when it comes to developing big men. Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing was recently added to Clifford’s staff, too.
For the fourth straight Mock Draft, Alex Len remains the choice for the Cavs. Cleveland is still considering Nerlens Noel or trading the pick — especially if they can get Love, or a package consisting of a lottery pick, an extra No, 1 and a good young player.
The Cavs apparently feel that Len’s ability on both ends of the court better mix with budding star Kyrie Irving and would give the team the dynamic combo it needs to push for the playoffs. While Len may not have as much upside defensively as Noel, he is a significantly better offensive option and a productive rebounder and shot blocker.
As reports, positive and negative, continue to surface about McLemore and Noel and their inner circles, the Cavs seem more inclined to take Len, who still has room to develop. Len’s signature right now is his developed offensive game in the post and facing the basket. With Irving and Len, Cleveland could have a really impressive pick-and-pop game.
COVERAGE FROM THE ALEX LEN BEAT