Alex Len

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Alex Len
Alex Len 2012.jpg
Len before a game in 2012
No. 21 – Phoenix Suns
Position Center
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1993-06-16) June 16, 1993 (age 24)
Antratsyt, Ukraine
Nationality Ukrainian
Listed height 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)
Listed weight 260 lb (118 kg)
Career information
High school Dnipropetrovsk Higher College
(Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine)
College Maryland (2011–2013)
NBA draft 2013 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall
Selected by the Phoenix Suns
Playing career 2010–present
Career history
2010–2011 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
2013–present Phoenix Suns
Stats at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Oleksiy "Alex" Len (Ukrainian: Олексій Лень; born June 16, 1993) is a Ukrainian professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Before being drafted, he played two seasons for the Maryland Terrapins of the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as a season with BC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in his home nation's top professional basketball league.

Early life[edit]

Len was born in Antratsyt, Luhansk, Ukraine to a mother named Yulia, who ran track early in her life. Growing up, Len participated in gymnastics and liked watching Jackie Chan films.[1][2][3] As a young gymnast, Len was trained by Alexei Stepanenko, who had also trained Olympic gold medalist Ihor Korobchynskyi.[4] He started playing basketball at the age of 13 and later attended Dnipropetrovsk Higher College in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.[5] He played for the Ukraine national team at the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship and the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, where during the 2010 tournament, he was the fourth best overall scorer, second best rebounder, and the best shot blocker. Following the tournament, Len joined BC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk of the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague for the 2010–11 season.

College career[edit]

He was the recipient of an athletic scholarship from the University of Maryland coach Gary Williams, but Williams resigned after the 2010-11 season, leading to Mark Turgeon to take his place. While Williams began recruiting Len, it was Turgeon who eventually lured him to Maryland.[6] Len underachieved in his freshman year, averaging 6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 2.1 BPG, but showed lottery pick potential after serving a ten game suspension at the beginning of the year due to NCAA amateurism issues resulting from his play with BC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, a European club team from his home nation.

Len opened his sophomore season on November 9, 2012 against the reigning champion Kentucky Wildcats, led by ESPN's #1 player of the 2012 recruiting class, Nerlens Noel. The game was played at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Len overpowered Noel throughout the entire game, scoring 23 points with 12 rebounds and 4 blocks, while holding Noel to 4 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks, although Kentucky won the game 72-69. Following the game, there was talk that Len could potentially be a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. On January 16, 2013, Len ended up scoring 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, including a game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds in the game, to get a 51-50 upset over #14 North Carolina State. On February 16, 2013, Len again played a starring role, leading Maryland to an 83-81 upset victory over the top ranked Duke Blue Devils. Len put up 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks, while holding Duke star senior Mason Plumlee to 4 points.[7] He went on to average 11.9 points per game in 38 total games that season.

Professional career[edit]

2013 NBA draft[edit]

On April 14, 2013, Len decided to declare for the 2013 NBA draft. He was projected to land in the lottery, with some experts projecting Len as the #1 overall pick.[8][9] On May 3, 2013, Len ended up getting surgery on his left ankle that resulted in him being out for around 4–6 months.[10] He was selected 5th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 NBA draft. Len was the second international-born player to be selected in that draft, behind the first overall selection in Canadian-born Anthony Bennett, as well as the highest Ukrainian-born player to be drafted in the NBA, which was a record previously held by Vitaly Potapenko in 1996. He was also the first Phoenix Suns player to be taken in the Top 5 of an NBA draft since Armen Gilliam in 1987.

Phoenix Suns (2013–present)[edit]

2013–14 season[edit]

Due to his ankle surgeries, Len did not join the Phoenix Suns for the 2013 NBA Summer League. He chose number 21 for the Suns to honor Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, his favorite players.[3] On July 12, 2013, Len had surgery on his right ankle due to a stress fracture.[11] He signed with the Suns on August 29, 2013,[12] and was cleared to practice with them by early September.[13]

Len made his NBA debut on November 1, 2013 at home in a close victory against the Utah Jazz. He sat out seven games before returning on November 19 against the Sacramento Kings. However, a day later, Len re-injured his left knee and missed over six weeks before returning on January 7 against the Chicago Bulls. Len had his first 10-rebound game in a 126–117 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on January 29, 2014.[14]

2014–15 season[edit]

In July 2014, Len joined the Phoenix Suns for the 2014 NBA Summer League. In the Suns' first game of the Summer League, Len recorded 6 points and 6 rebounds against the Golden State Warriors before fracturing his right pinkie finger and was subsequently ruled out until training camp.[15] On October 7, 2014, a day before the Suns' first pre-season game of 2014 against Brazilian club Flamengo, Len fractured the same pinkie finger again, forcing him to the sidelines once more.[16] He returned to action two weeks later in the Suns' pre-season game against the Los Angeles Clippers on October 22.[17]

On October 31, 2014, Len recorded his first career double-double with career-highs in points and rebounds with 10 and 11 respectively in the Suns' 94–89 win over the San Antonio Spurs.[18] On November 17, he scored a then career-high 19 points in a 118–114 win over the Boston Celtics.[19] Len started his first game on December 15 against the Milwaukee Bucks and continued to start for the Suns until February 5 when injured his ankle after a failed alley-oop attempt in the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers.[20] After missing three games due to the injury, he returned to action on February 20 to record 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six blocks in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.[21] On April 2, he underwent successful surgery to repair his broken nose, an injury he suffered against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 30.[22] He subsequently missed the final seven games of the season.[23]

2015–16 season[edit]

In July 2015, Len re-joined the Suns for the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas where in five games, he averaged 10.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.[24] Following the conclusion of the Summer League, Len began training with his new teammate Tyson Chandler, as well as rival center and one of Len's personal favorite players, Tim Duncan, throughout the off-season.[25] On December 9, Len recorded a then career-high 20 points and 14 rebounds in a 107–104 win over the Orlando Magic.[26] On January 11, he was ruled out for three games with a left hand sprain.[27] On February 4, he recorded 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in a 111–105 loss to the Houston Rockets.[28] On February 21, he recorded a then career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds in a 118–111 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.[29] He went on to set a new career-high on March 4, recording 31 points along with 15 rebounds in a 102–84 win over the Orlando Magic,[30] becoming the Suns' first 31/15 game since Amar'e Stoudemire did it in 2008 and the team's second-youngest player to record such a feat.[31] Two days later, Len recorded 19 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high 6 assists in a 109–100 win over the Memphis Grizzlies,[32] becoming the first Suns player to record such statistics at 22 years old and the first since Shawn Marion in 2005–06 with five straight games of 12+ points and 12+ rebounds.[33][34] On March 17, he recorded his 10th straight game with 10+ rebounds.[35] On April 7, he recorded a career-high seven assists in a 124–115 win over the Houston Rockets.[36] Len appeared in 78 games for the Suns in 2015–16, starting in 46 of them, both career highs. He recorded 19 double-doubles and finished with averages of 9.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists, all career highs.[35]

2016–17 season[edit]

After going 0–4 to start the season, Len helped the Suns record their first win on November 2 with 18 points in a 118–115 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.[37] On November 8, he recorded 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in a 107–100 win over the Detroit Pistons.[38] On December 9, he recorded 14 points, 13 rebounds and a season-high five blocks off the bench in a 119–115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.[39] On February 10, 2017, he was suspended one game without pay for leaving the bench area and entering the playing court during an altercation in the Suns' 110–91 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies two days earlier.[40]

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2013–14 Phoenix 42 3 8.6 .423 .000 .645 2.4 .1 .1 .4 2.0
2014–15 Phoenix 69 44 22.0 .507 .333 .702 6.6 .5 .5 1.5 6.3
2015–16 Phoenix 78 46 23.3 .423 .143 .728 7.6 1.2 .5 .8 9.0
2016–17 Phoenix 77 34 20.3 .497 .250 .721 6.6 .6 .5 1.3 8.0
Career 266 127 19.8 .465 .227 .716 6.2 .7 .4 1.1 6.9

National team career[edit]

Len played for Ukraine's Under-16 national team during the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship. Despite his performance throughout the tournament, which included a 20 point outing against Israel and averaging 8.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and being the second-best shot blocker in the tournament with 2.6 blocks per game,[41] the Under-16 national team was relegated under the Division B section after the tournament for over a year's time. He played with his nation's Under-18 national team for the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. Unlike in the Under-16 Tournament he participated in back in 2009, Len helped the Under-18 team stay in the Division A tournaments for at least another year. Throughout the tournament, Len ended up being the biggest stand-out player for the nation throughout the entire tournament. In fact, his performance throughout the tournament led to the University of Maryland, along with a few other universities like Virginia Tech, gaining enough interest in him to get him on their team.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In December 2015, Len and his mother, Yulia, created the Len-d A Hand Foundation, a charity that helps reach out to the youth in Phoenix, Arizona and other surrounding areas.[42][43] Len is also a strong swimmer. On April 25, 2016, he helped save his friend and a lifeguard from drowning at a beach in the Dominican Republic.[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maryland basketball player Alex Len gives first media interview
  2. ^ Five Things You Need to Know About Alex Len
  3. ^ a b Suns One On One: Alex Len
  4. ^ Мама нашего новичка НБА Лэня: о кактусах, меде и нюансах жизни в баскетбольной Америке (фото) (in Ukrainian)
  5. ^ 25 - Alex Len
  6. ^ Alex Len Bio
  7. ^ "Terps' Alex Len to enter NBA draft". BaltimoreNewsJournal.com. April 15, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ Alex Len’s final NBA mock draft roundup: No. 1 overall still a possibility?
  9. ^ Alex Len has ankle surgery
  10. ^ Alex Len undergoes right ankle surgery, Suns announce
  11. ^ First Round Pick Alex Len Signs With Suns
  12. ^ Suns rookie Alex Len says he is cleared to practice
  13. ^ Alex Len 2013-14 Game Log
  14. ^ Alex Len of Suns has broken pinky
  15. ^ Len Sidelined With Fractured Finger
  16. ^ Alex Len makes one big play in return to NBA court
  17. ^ 3 point guards lead Suns rally over Spurs
  18. ^ Morris, Suns pull out 118-114 win over Celtics
  19. ^ Aldridge leads Trail Blazers to 108-87 win over Suns
  20. ^ Timberwolves hold off short-handed Suns, 111-109
  21. ^ Alex Len Undergoes Surgery to Repair Broken Nose
  22. ^ Alex Len 2014-15 Game Log
  23. ^ 2015 Summer League Player Profile – Alex Len
  24. ^ Suns' Alex Len helped by Tim Duncan, Tyson Chandler
  25. ^ Knight helps Suns edge Magic 107-104
  26. ^ Suns adjust for Pacers without Brandon Knight, Alex Len, Ronnie Price
  27. ^ Brewer, Ariza lead Rockets past Suns 111-105
  28. ^ Mills sinks 6 3s, Spurs pull out 118-111 win at Phoenix
  29. ^ Suns beat Magic to end 17-game road losing streak
  30. ^ How rare is the Suns' Alex Len's 31 points and 15 rebounds in a single game? Rare
  31. ^ Booker, Len lead Suns past Grizzlies, 109-100
  32. ^ Watch: Booker and Len make history for Phoenix Suns
  33. ^ @alexlen has 12+ points and 12+ rebounds in...
  34. ^ a b Alex Len 2015-16 Game Log
  35. ^ Career-highs for @Suns tonight: P.J. Tucker with...
  36. ^ "Bledsoe's 3 sinks Blazers in OT, 118-115". ESPN.com. November 2, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Bledsoe, Dudley lead Suns past Pistons 105-99 [sic]". ESPN.com. November 9, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Eric Bledsoe scores 30, Suns hold off Lakers 119-115". ESPN.com. December 9, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Suns' Len suspended one game for leaving bench during altercation". NBA.com. February 10, 2017. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  40. ^ Olexiy Len | U16 European Championship Men 2009
  41. ^ About Us – LenD A Hand Foundation
  42. ^ Alex Len-ds a Hand in Home Country
  43. ^ Phoenix Suns center Alex Len saves friend from drowning in Dominican Republic

External links[edit]