Alex Len: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

June 4th, 2013 by Kevin Hetrick

This post is the most tedious of the series…but you’ll survive.  Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 3.0 (ESPN Insider) noted that Alex Len was still being considered by the Cavs at #1.  The Maryland sophomore was also brought up by a few commenters last week, so by popular demand, I’m back with another player comparison*.  The young Terrapin is nimble, yet 250 pounds; a 7-footer, with rim protecting and scoring potential.  Of course, he is currently rehabbing from surgery to stabilize an ankle stress fracture, leaving him unable to participate in the combine or workouts.

Len’s numerical profile is (without measurements**):

Alex Len – Age 20 at draft.  112.7 orating on 22.6 usage.  Shooting percentages = 53 / 13 / 69.  Scoring location distribution = 76 / 1 / 23.  oreb% = 13.1.  dreb% = 19.3.  ast% = 7.7.  stl% = 0.4.  to% = 15.6.  Blk% = 7.9.  A:TO Ratio = 0.6.  Postseason = NIT Final Four behind averages of 11 points, 7 boards, and 4 blocks in four games.  Played NCAA’s 96th toughest schedule***.

Solid…not spectacular.  I’m going to take a different tact for today’s article and make you work a little bit.  I’ve included six other centers, all drafted in the early to mid-first round.  If they were drafted older than Len, I included their age 20 season and their final collegiate campaign.  Look at the provided information, and “tier” the players into similar levels of prospect.  Include Len.  After ten minutes, put your pencils down…eyes on your own paper.

Player A – age 20.3 at draft .  112.5 orating, 22 usage.  Shooting Percentages = 58 / 9 / 73.  Scoring Locations = 78 / 1 / 21.  oreb% = 9.0.  dreb% = 23.5.  ast% = 9.9.  TO% = 18.7.  A:TO Ratio = 0.6.  Stl% = 0.9.  Blk% = 6.8.  No Postseason tourney.  Played the NCAA’s 18th toughest schedule.

Very similar to Len.

Player B – age 19.2 at draft – 109.3 orating on 24.7 usage.  Shooting Percentages = 53 / 33 / 76.  Scoring Locations = 83 / 1/ 16.  oreb% = 8.1.  dreb% = 18.1.  blk% = 6.3.  stl% = 1.0.  ast% = 13.9.  A:TO = 0.8.  to% = 20.0.   No post-season tourney.  Played the NCAA’s 55th toughest schedule.

This player was ten months younger than Len.  Again, their results are relatively similar, especially considering Len’s freshman season offensive rebounding rate of 8.8%.

Player C – age 20.2 at draft.  110.5 orating on 32 usage.  Shooting Percentages = 47 / 0 / 79.  Scoring distribution = 71 / 0 / 29.  oreb% = 11.  dreb% = 19.2.  ast% = 11.2.  stl% = 0.6.  to% = 13.5.  blk% = 6.8.  A:TO = 0.6.  Lost in sweet 16 of NCAA tourney (60 points in 76 minutes).  Played the NCAA’s 26th toughest schedule.

On offense, clearly superior to Len, using nearly one-third of his team’s possessions as efficiently as Len used fewer than one-fourth.  His shot blocking and rebounding are slightly lesser, but nearly on par with the young Terrapin.  Player C faced a more difficult schedule and offered a solid NCAA tourney run.

Player D – age 20.2.  103.6 orating, 25.4 usage.  Shooting percentages = 61 / 0 / 65.  Scoring distribution = 69 / 0 / 31.  oreb% = 13.5.  dreb% = 26.2.  ast% = 8.3.  stl% = 0.8.  to% = 26.3.  A:TO Ratio = 0.3.  blk% = 7.4.   No post-season tourney.  NCAA’s 232nd toughest schedule.

Still Player D – age 21.2 at draft.  112 orating on 29.7 usage.  Shooting percentages = 62 / 0 / 75.  Scoring distribution = 70 / 0 / 30.  oreb% = 14.1.  dreb% = 28.3.  ast% = 8.3.  to% = 24.1.  A:TO Ratio = 0.3.  stl% = 0.9.  blk% = 8.5.   Lost in second round of NCAA tourney, averaging 18 points and 8 boards.  NCAA’s 123 toughest schedule.

This player made a significant leap in production between his sophomore and junior years, going from a fringe prospect to a lottery selection.  Against an improved schedule, and handling a star’s bulk of the offense, he scored effectively while registering as one of the NCAA’s best rebounders.  He sure had butter fingers though.

Player E – age 19.6 – 110 orating on 25 usage.  Shooting percentages = 58 / 36 / 64.  Scoring locations = 80 / 3 / 17.  oreb% = 14.7, dreb% = 26.6.  ast% = 17.5.  stl% = 0.9.  to% = 22.8.  A:TO = 0.8.  blk% = 4.6.  Lost in first round of NCAA tourney, providing 16 points and 8 boards in that effort.  NCAA’s 87th toughest schedule.

Still Player E – age 20.6 at draft – 122 orating on 29 usage.  Shooting percentages = 62 / 36 / 69.  Scoring locations = 76 / 4 / 20.  oreb% = 16.  dreb% = 30.  stl% = 1.8.  blk% = 6.2.  ast% = 18.1.  A:TO = 0.9.  Embarked on a sweet 16 run, leading his team with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks during those three games.  Played the NCAA’s 90th toughest schedule.

At six months younger, he was vaguely similar to Len, but Player E was a much better rebounder.  He was also a solid passer, while Len blocked a few more shots.  By six months older, Player E left Len in the dust.

Player F – Age 20.4 season.  107.5 orating on 23.9 usage.  Shooting Percentages = 52 / 0 / 72.  Scoring Locations = 79 / 0 / 21.  oreb% = 11.5.  dreb% = 15.6.  stl% = 1.6.  ast% = 3.1.  to% = 16.6.  blk% = 4.8.  A:TO = 0.2.  His team lost in the NIT final; over those five games, he averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds.  Played the NCAA’s 9th toughest schedule.

Still Player F- age 22.4 at draft.  121 orating on 24.5 usage.  Shooting percentages = 55 / 0 / 81.  Scoring locations = 71 / 0 / 29.  oreb% = 14.  dreb% = 20.1.  ast% = 6.2.  to% = 15.3.  A:TO = 0.5.  stl% = 1.5.  blk% = 5.2.  Lost in Elite Eight of NCAA tourney, averaging 15 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks in four games.  Played the NCAA’s 35th toughest schedule.

This player made strides on offense and the boards between his sophomore and senior seasons, but was clearly a cut below the rest of this group at 20 years old.

OK.  So that was a grind, huh?  Have all the numbers made you cross-eyed?  Did you lump the players into tiers?  I would say:

Tier 1: Player C (Brook Lopez) and Player E (Andrew Bogut).  As a sophomore, Lopez took on star-level offensive usage against a competitive slate.  As a young junior, Bogut similarly thrived on offense, while also finishing first in the NCAA for total rebounds.

Tier 2: Len, Player A (Meyers Leonard), Player B (Spencer Hawes), and Player D (Chris Kaman).  For an age / statistical comparison, Leonard looks most similar to Len…he hasn’t done anything in the NBA yet though, so it’s hard to project much for Len based on that.

Tier 3: Player F (Tyler Zeller).  I’m not trying to pick on Mr. Zeller, but included him due to Cavs fan’s familiarity.  Clearly as a 20-year old, he was well behind this group, but continued improving over his final two years at Chapel Hill.  Stacked up against this list, I cannot recall why I listed him at #8 next year, but I have complete faith that he is going to make a leap next year and make me look smart.

Summary: To wrap this up,Alex Len falls in with a group of players consisting of a career 9 & 6 guy at the bottom end (PER of 14), with a one-time All-Star at the top.  Based on performance, he compares very similarly with the 11th pick in a strong 2012 draft class.  What’s it mean?  I hope that any talk of Len at #1 remains a Cavalier smoke screen.  But hey, anytime you can draft a player with ceiling of one-time All-Star, while he is rehabbing an ankle injury, using the first pick in the draft…you have to consider that, right?

* – Anthony Bennett is still forthcoming.

** – Len’s wingspan was measured at the combine, but not his height, reach or weight, as he could not put weight on his injured ankle (thanks to commenters Demetrius and b33 for clarifying this).

*** – strength of schedule via kenpom.com

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