Center, 7’1″, 255 lbs.
Sophomore, University of Maryland
19 years old
2012-13 Stats: 11.9 PPG (53.4% FG, 68.6% FT, 1-8 3FG), 7.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 SPG, 2.1 BPG, 1.6 TOPG
STRENGTHS: The big man from Ukraine is a space eater who surprises with some decent footwork around the basket. Len shows an adequate framework on the offensive end — he finishes strong at the rim and flashes the ability to pop and hit jumpers out to about 15 feet. Len also uses his size to set hard picks, and his movement is good enough to let him roll effectively. Defensively, Len proved to be a solid shot blocker. His size is a natural advantage on the glass, and as he gets stronger, he’ll really be able to carve out space on rebounds and in the post.
WEAKNESSES: The first red flag for Len is his current ankle injury, a stress fracture that will prevent him from competing for up to six months. Lower body injuries on big men are a huge concern. On the court, Len is not an all-world athlete. His game will have to be power. While there are glimpses of offensive talent, the NBA is a different ball game and Len has a long way to go to compete at that level offensively. He’s yet to develop a reliable post game. He’s not an adept passer and his ball-handling will have to improve. Len doesn’t have the best lateral quickness and will struggle with the athletic big men that dominate the NBA.
HOW HE’D FIT WITH THE KINGS: If the Kings draft Len, they either think he can play next to DeMarcus Cousins or replace him. Both would be incorrect presumptions for Len as a rookie. Due to his injury and raw game, the center would start his career on the Kings bench, likely as the fourth guy in the Kings big man rotation. He’d be relied on to fill the Cole Aldrich role — providing size for a relatively small team, pound the boards and finish around the basket. Len hasn’t displayed much from the high post like many Kings big men in recent history. The hope would be he evolves into a low post player the Kings can run offense through. His best complement would seemingly be a stretch “4” who can score the rock (Cousins?), allowing him to do the dirty work on both ends while contributing occasionally on offense.
SCOTT - No. If the plan is to play him next to Cousins, I don’t see the fit. And if the plan is for him to replace Cousins — which seems doubtful after new coach Michael Malone’s proclamations — I don’t see the potential. Len seems like a guy that could carve out a 10-year career; seven-footers with any skill have a great chance of that. But my perception is that his ceiling is low, and that, combined with his current ankle issue, makes me shy away from using a high lottery pick on Len. I hate to label any guy a stiff, and Len is far from the least athletic guy in this draft, but I just can’t see him becoming a primetime NBA talent.
BRYANT WEST - A very hesitant approval. His injury worries me, as did his oft appearance of shying away from contact. But I disagree with Scott on his overall potential. Certainly, he isn’t a perfect fit next to Cousins as a potential Cuz/Len duo would have problems with faster, more athletic power forwards, but Len’s defensive potential and overall ceiling look much higher to me than many of the bigs in this class. I’d rather the Kings take a gamble on Len then most of the others at his position.
WHERE HE GOES: NBA GM’s love size in the draft, and after the big names come off the board, Len could become an option for a team like New Orleans (6). Minnesota (9) may get some insurance for Nikola Pekovic’s free agency, while Philly (11) and Atlanta (17/18) also serve as potential landing spots. We’ve seen injury concerns cause other big men (Jared Sullinger, DeJuan Blair) to drop considerably, and Len may be this year’s candidate to free fall.
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