Best Sports Savior (2013)

Alex Len, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns are rebuilding after the almost-heady days of Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire. We mean, despite his two MVPs, Nash never brought us a trophy. Neither did Charles Barkley back in his day, though he came closer. Then came last season, when the Suns without Nash (Amar'e was long gone) were nowhere close to contention. In fact, they were the worst team in the NBA's Western Conference. So because of this new low in suckage, we're heartened by any seemingly positive development. Anything that could bring the team back to almost glory. And we think thrifty owner Robert Sarver and his crew may have stumbled on a guy who could help ace guard Goran Dragic make our purple-and-gold goons respectable again: 7-foot-1 Alex Len. We know: Tree-tall white guys (jump-shooters like Dirk Nowitzki aside) tend to be meat in the middle in today's NBA, not the mega-scorers needed to be to win championships. But if Len can stay healthy (ankle issue), we predict he'll be different. A sophomore at the University of Maryland last season, the Lithuanian averaged 11 points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots per game (impressive college numbers). Against the reigning-national-champion Kentucky Wildcats last year, he dominated the player whom scouts would declare the best big man in the '13 draft, Nerlens Noel — scoring 23 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and blocking four shots. Don't look for the Suns' fifth overall pick in the NBA draft (he could've gone first if not for the ankle injury) to start immediately; he'll play behind journeyman big man Marcin Gortat, whose contract expires after next season. The Suns say they picked Len because of his, um, "upside." He's a giant 20-year-old who, they say, may not be done growing physically. He's certainly not done growing as a scorer and defender. We pray he becomes the franchise player that the Suns can build around.


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >