Raptors' Alex Len presents untapped talent at low risk

Toronto Raptors Analyst Leo Rautins talks what's in store for the Toronto Raptors ahead of NBA training camp with Eric Smith and Paul Jones on the Fan 590.

The Toronto Raptors have reportedly agreed to a deal with veteran centre Alex Len.

Likely fitting in as another end-of-rotation depth piece, Len, along with the reported signings of Aron Baynes and Chris Boucher, fill out Toronto’s depth chart at the centre position with the departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.

Here’s more on what he might be able to provide the Raptors.

Age: 27
Nationality: Ukranian
Position: Centre
Height: Seven feet | Weight: 250 pounds
Former team: Sacramento Kings
2019-20 stats: PPG: 8.0 | RPG: 5.8 | FG%: 55.5

A former top-five pick

Believe it or not, back in 2013 the Phoenix Suns took Len fifth overall in the NBA draft.

Granted that wasn’t exactly a world-beater draft year, but even back then it seemed a little high. As such, the “bust” moniker has dogged him for much of his career.

With that said, this could be to the Raptors’ benefit.

According to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, Len is signing a one-year deal with the remainder of the team's mid-level exception -- which comes out to just about the minimum -- giving the Raptors an opportunity to see if he might be able to pan out as a reclamation project of sorts at almost no risk, like they’ve attempted in the past with names like Bismack Biyombo and Jared Sullinger.

Obviously, one of those guys worked out and the other didn’t, and we don’t know the outcome of the Len experiment yet, but adding more depth at centre with the possibility of some untapped talent at little risk seems like as good an idea as any.

A classic, bruising big

As for Len’s game, the main reason why he didn’t live up to his draft billing is because the style of the play in the NBA passed him by. His low-post skills have become much less valuable and his inability to stretch the floor with outside shooting make him something of a liability as he’s not a feature centre that will have plays run for him and be surrounded by shooters himself.

Len is an old-school centre with limited offensive game outside of post-ups and tip-ins around the basket. However, he’s so big and strong that when given the opportunity, he’s quite adept at doing those two things.

Unfortunately, he lacks athleticism so he isn’t a player who’s going to do much above the rim, but he can make up for it with his great motor and general energy he brings to the game when on the floor. There will be no fear of a lack of effort from Len.

Defensively, Len might be able to show his value more as he’s a good shot-blocker with excellent timing on when to go up and contest the ball. Looking at his combined numbers split between the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks (who dealt him to the Kings on trade deadline day), Len averaged nearly two blocks per 36 minutes. Additionally, he has quicker feet and is more agile than you might think just looking at him, meaning he can defend some pick-and-roll as well.

Though he may not feature the ideal skill package you want in a modern NBA big man, Len still has some he can bring to the table.

His name makes for some obvious puns

All right, come on. Get it out of your system now:

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.