As predicted by nearly everyone, Alex Len (2011-13), making his first appearance in this blog, was a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The only mystery was how high he would be selected. And the answer was fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns. Here's a round-up of coverage:
The Phoenix Suns announce their pick with an unusually bad pun in the headline:
“When Anthony Bennett went first, I think everybody in the room was excited to think that the guy we had rated the highest on our board may end up (reaching us), and that’s exactly what happened with Alex,” Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “So when the fourth pick came, and we saw it wasn’t Alex, it was a no-brainer for us.” [...]
“Obviously when you want to be a fast-breaking team, the best way to get out on the break is to play good defense and take off with it,” Hornacek said. “Big guys are not usually that mobile, and he’s a very mobile guy. And especially in our system where you want to get out running, he can fill the lane. Several times you saw him go down the middle of the lane, get a pass just inside that free throw line, take one long stride and he’s dunking it. I think being a gymnast is going to bode well for footwork and everything else.”
Also from the Suns' website, here's a video of Len's introductory press conference with the Suns, and an interview with Mark Turgeon about how Len will continue to develop and evolve in the NBA.
The Arizona Republic:
The Suns did not just think Len was the best center in this year’s draft. They thought he was the best player in the draft. The Suns did not win the draft lottery on May 21, but they felt like they won it Thursday when they were stunned that Len was available at No. 5.
The Suns started salivating once Cleveland dropped jaws by taking UNLV’s Anthony Bennett first. They discussed trading up with each of the four teams ahead of them to get Len.
“How often do you get a chance to get a 7-1 skilled guy who is a great person on the court, who is long, has got a nice touch, finishes well around the basket with good body control?,” Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said. “We feel like he’s just scratching the surface of his basketball ability.”
"With the pick 5th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select Alex Len, Antratsyt, Ukraine and the University of Maryland."
They were the words Alex Len had always hoped he’d hear, the ones his mother believed could become reality if she gave her son the opportunity to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA. In a matter of seconds, years of work, stress, sacrifices and struggles became a distant memory, as NBA Commissioner David Stern handed Len his Suns hat, marking the unofficial start of his lifelong dream to play in the NBA.
The Baltimore Sun:
The selection of the 7-foot-1, 255-pound Ukrainian marks the highest of a Maryland player since Steve Francis was picked No. 2 by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999. He is the first former Terp taken in the lottery picks (top 14) since Chris Wilcox was selected eighth by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2002.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who accompanied Len, his mother and sister to the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he was “thrilled” with the selection of Len by the Suns, a rebuilding franchise coming off its worst season in more than 40 years.
The Washington Post:
Once thought to be in the running for the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, former Maryland center Alex Len dropped to fifth, where the Phoenix Suns selected him Thursday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Suns chose Len over Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Kansas guard Ben McLemore, who were both still available.