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Updated Jun 28, 2013 - 6:02 pm

Suns GM McDonough: Len's Maryland teammates held him back

In this March 16, 2013 file photo, Maryland's Alex Len (25) dunks against North Carolina during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C. Len is a possible first round pick in the NBA Draft on June 27. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough understands that Alex Len's statistics last year are nothing to write home about.

The sophomore averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He made 53 percent of his field goal attempts and shot 69 percent from the free throw line.

However, the first-year GM told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Friday that much of his top pick's perceived struggles can be attributed to the talent -- or lack thereof -- around the center.

"Alex is 7-1, he can't dribble the ball up the court and then throw an entry pass to himself," McDonough said. "So when I watched him play in person and when I studied the film, he got great position a lot of the time and he had his man sealed under the basket, had a good target ready to receive the ball, and I thought his guards did a very poor job of getting him the ball.

"Either they didn't get it to him or, when he was in position and open, they got it to him late and let the double (team) come or something."

McDonough said he did not want to "bag on Maryland," but instead was trying to illustrate why his new center's statistics may not reflect his talent level.

"I didn't think they were a very good post feeding team and I didn't think they were a very good shooting team," he said. "So if you can't get the ball to Alex or if you have trouble getting the ball to Alex, that makes it difficult.

"And then if once you get it to him, if the other team can just double without any regard for your perimeter shooting, how would anybody succeed in that kind of environment? You need some tools around you."

Indeed Maryland, which went 25-13 and earned a spot in the NIT, was not a particularly great team. And it's true, they weren't exactly led by top-notch point guards. But Len was not even first or second team ACC, and he was hardly a dominant player at the collegiate level.

So McDonough and the Suns are banking on what could be viewed as untapped potential, though the GM is reluctant to say Len is a "raw" player.

"I think his skills are actually pretty developed," he said. "I'm hoping and projecting they'll continue to develop.

"He'll be, I think, one of the more skilled seven-footers in the NBA."

About the Author

School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.


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