Cleveland Cavaliers Would Be Foolish to Select Alex Len No. 1 Overall

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Cleveland Cavaliers Would Be Foolish to Select Alex Len No. 1 Overall
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

There have been rumblings that Alex Len, the star center out of Maryland, could end up going to the Cleveland Cavaliers as the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft, which would be downright foolish of the up-and-coming franchise. 

With the draft just over a week away, the Cavs still haven’t tipped their hand in regards to their plans for the No. 1 overall selection, but they have expressed interest in Len by extending an offer for him to come visit.

According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, the Terps big man will be in Cleveland this weekend along with Nerlens Noel, the star Kentucky center that many projected the Cavs to take on June 27.

While Len is still recovering from offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, he’ll be able to run in August and is targeting a full recovery in time for training camp in October, as per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

The Cavs will likely pick his brain and see what he can do within the limits of his rehabilitation, with a chance to see which prospect—him or Noel—better passes the “eye test.”

Don’t be surprised if its Len, as reports are starting to leak out that Chris Grant, the club’s general manager, has the UMD product atop his big board.

Jimmy Smith, a New Orleans Pelicans beat writer with the Times-Picayune, caused shockwaves when he reported on Monday that Len is the likely choice for the Cavs with the No. 1 overall pick:

If this is true and comes to fruition, it will be a mistake that Cleveland will likely regret.

Remember, the Cavs received plenty of flak for their brazen decisions to draft Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters earlier than expected—two players that appear to have bright futures in this league—but this would be move too bold for their own good.

There’s plenty to like about Len, as the 7’1” behemoth is a high-upside scoring machine in the paint, with a variety of low-post moves that most bigs in the modern NBA never bother to learn.

Len can also face-up and shoot the ball, helping to stretch the defense and open things up on the court. He’s an above-average passer and solid rim protector, which should enable him to become a contributor in his rookie season and for a long time to come.

However, he’s a bit soft and doesn’t seem to possess the mentality that most dominant scorers throughout history have displayed. Len was reluctant to call for the ball and timid to destroy lesser competition in college, which doesn’t bode well for his prospects against hardened NBA talent.

Mike Powell/Getty Images
While Len could be a decent scorer, he'll never become a great like Kareem Abdul-Jabar unless he has the desire and motor to dominate.

Players can be taught to shoot, rebound, pass and more, but motor and desire are two things that simply can’t be imparted from even the best coaches.  

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The Cavs could get a high-motor, high-upside future star in Noel, who gives 100 percent effort on every possession and could eventually—with enough time in the gym—surpass Len in the scoring department.

He’s a much surer thing due to his athleticism and attitude, which is why the Cavs would be crazy to pass up on the Wildcats product.

While Len could become a great player in this league, the organization would have to trade down in order to justify selecting him. Even then, it could come back to haunt Cleveland, especially if Noel pans out as he is projected to.

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