Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 6/28/13
PHOENIX -- Not only did the Suns go big with the No. 5 overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, they just might have hit it big, too. The team certainly seemed to be thinking that way Thursday: Check out one of the first pictures of Alex Len as a Phoenix Sun. SunsDraft pic.twitter.comU03TOoXlBa Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 28, 2013 After a shakeup at the top of the lottery, the Suns landed Maryland center Alex Len, a big man with big potential who could be the cornerstone of their rebuilding project. "When we saw that fourth pick came and saw it wasn't Alex, it was a no-brainer," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Any time you can get a 7-(foot)-1 guy with a long wingspan and who's athletic ... it's not very often you get those types of players." In taking Len, a 20-year-old Ukraine native, the Suns passed on Kentucky center Nerlens Noel -- once regarded as the likely No. 1 pick -- and Kansas guard Ben McLemore. It was an enviable position to have to choose between the three, but the Suns clearly had no doubt Len was their man. When the Cavaliers took Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall, eyes in the Suns' draft room probably got a little wider. Many in the room believed Len would be the top pick. Once Otto Porter went third overall and Cody Zeller went fourth, the Suns knew they'd get the guy they wanted. "The guy we have rated highest on our board may end up getting there," Hornacek said, describing the team's thinking in the draft room. "That's what happened with Alex." It wasn't a sexy pick, and it probably won't have fans frantically dialing the team's box office, but the pick makes sense. It gives the Suns an athletic two-way player with scoring potential that ought to be tapped with the right players around him. It also gives them a player who can protect the rim and rebound. Ultimately, as Hornacek astutely noted Thursday, it gives the Suns something they haven't had in a long time, if ever. "Let's face it: How many times has the Phoenix Suns organization had a 7-foot-1 guy with that kind of skill?" Hornacek said. "We're very excited about him." Len is equally excited about coming to Phoenix. In a conference call with local media, Len expressed repeatedly how excited he is to join the Suns and work with NBA coaches to further develop his game. That will have to wait a bit, though, as Len will be off the court until sometime in August rehabbing the fractured left ankle that kept him out of pre-draft workouts, although he is expected to be ready for training camp. As confident as the Suns were in Len, he's just as confident in himself and his potential to keep getting better. Asked what will ultimately make him the best player taken in the 2013 draft, Len offered this: "I have big upside, and I know I'm going to work hard. We'll see." Not getting ahead of himself too much, just as he didn't when asked whom he models his game after. "I don't compare myself to anybody, but growing up I watched a lot of Tim Duncan," Len said. " Len is probably (OK, almost certainly) not the next Tim Duncan, but that he wants to play that way bodes well for the Suns. He should be able to contribute quickly on defense, while his offensive game might take a little more time to develop. "I'm pretty agile and coordinated for my size," Len said. "I think I'll be able to contribute right away on the defensive end of the floor, and I'm going to do whatever (Hornacek) wants me to offensively." Perhaps most intriguing of Len is the potential. If he impressed enough in just parts of two seasons to project in many assessments as the No. 1 overall pick, how much better can he get? "You've got to remember he's 20 years old -- just turned 20 last week," Hornacek said. "So he's a very young kid. "We feel with the guys we have here now, he's going to get a lot of good looks. He's going to be used a lot more than he was in college, and he's got a lot of upside." Maybe "upside" and "potential" won't fill US Airways Center the way a player like McLemore or Noel might have, but the Suns displayed a commitment to building with their selection. They stuck with a player they feel good about and clearly believe can be the centerpiece of their return to the top of the Western Conference. If the payoff on Len is as great as the Suns believe it will be, the pick will go down as a big one. "He's a guy that could be a game-changer down the road," Hornacek said. "It's a situation where, when we all looked at the guys and ranked them, he was a consensus." Much of the league -- not just the Suns -- felt Len could go No. 1 overall, albeit in a wide-open draft. The Suns got him at No. 5. Between that and Len's towering frame, it was a big, big night for Phoenix.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
One Gotta Go: NFL Legends (and Jose Canseco!) Have No Love For Captain America
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Wentz unlikely to see any playing time this season

Minnesota Wild names Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ official goal song

Gabby Douglas joining judges for Miss America pageant

Recruit decommits from Michigan after mail mistake

Dez Bryant reportedly suffers concussion at practice

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kobe Bryant to be honored with his own day in LA on 8/24

Colts sign Antonio Cromartie

Connor McDavid: 'I’m not some 18-year-old kid anymore'

Aguayo seeks out mental coach after missing kicks

Josh Norman unloads on Goodell: He is 'straight horrible'

Siemian named Broncos starter for third preseason game

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

Washington's Josh Norman speaks candidly about multiple NFL talking points

Derrick Rose: Knicks have chance to win every game

Ranking the MLB divisional races

Inside the Pokemon World Championships, where masters are born

NFL players under most pressure in preseason Week 3

Tre Mason's mother: RB is like '10-year-old' due to head injuries

What we learned from this year's baffling SummerSlam event

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

QUIZ: Name every player to win a championship with Kobe Bryant

Inside the Pokemon World Championships, where masters are born

What we learned from this year's baffling SummerSlam event

Football Down Under: Looking back at college football overseas

31 memories from the XXXI Olympiad

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker