Alex Len Has Been A Pleasant Surprise In Sacramento

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Acquired to replace Dewayne Dedmon’s subpar production, Alex Len has been impressive in the infancy of his Sacramento Kings’ career.

Dewayne Dedmon was the perfect fit for the Sacramento Kings on paper, but we all know how that turned out. The team cut their losses shipped his contract off to the Atlanta Hawks along with two late second-rounders in exchange for Alex Len and Jabari Parker. With Richaun Holmes still being sidelined with a shoulder injury, production was necessitated out the gate from Len, and he has supplied plenty of it.

I had low expectations for the seven-foot big man from Ukraine when he was acquired, and he quickly exceeded those. Last season, Len experimented with the long-ball and actually hit 36.3% of his attempts from three, but he has returned to a traditional center role this season with zero attempts from three so far for Sacramento.

One of the major benefits of Len in comparison to Harry Giles, the only other currently healthy center, is the undeniable size of Len. He is a legitimate seven-footer and easily the tallest player on the Sacramento roster. It is functional size, with Len showing off exceptional verticality as the opposition drives into him and the timing of his hands has been flexed as well – freshly with five blocks against the Detroit Pistons.

There have been 34 games this season where the Sacramento team as a whole had fewer blocks than Len did individually in the recent outing.

He is scarcely described as light on his feet for a warranted reason, but there have been flashes like this transition block that leaves you wondering how good defensively Len truly can be:

He properly employs all of his 250 pounds to set quality screens and has a developing synergy with Buddy Hield, who fancies himself a solid screen or two.

Screen setting, rim protection, and rebounding are sufficient for a center to have positive production on the floor and Len averages 8.6 boards in his five-game Sacramento career through just under 20 minutes of game time per night. The game against Detroit was his top showing in this category as well, recording a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with the five aforementioned blocks.

Will Len Continue To See Minutes?

Despite the promising play and quick rise into a fan-favorite, Len could find himself warming a seat on the bench sooner rather than later. Richaun Holmes, who has been arguably the best player on the roster this season, is set to return to action in the near future and that certainly will have an impact on Len’s opportunity.

Harry Giles has been playing inspired basketball and has an undeniably higher upside than Len. Holmes should see roughly 30 minutes per night when he is healthy and I would give the remaining 18 minutes or so to the young bull in Harry Giles. But, we all know that Giles has his fair share of struggles with fouls, particularly when tasked with slowing down behemoth opposing centers.

Len is perfect to close this season as a trustworthy option should Giles not be performing up to standard in the second unit. It is likely that these ~20 games from Alex Len are the only minutes he will spend in Sacramento as the organization seems to be holding out hope that they can retain Harry Giles.

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Len’s play has been a welcome surprise to aid in the Sacramento playoff-push, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and forget the stellar talent that is Richaun Holmes this year. Len is a great third-tier center in the rotation with a fundamental but needed role when his number is called.