Maryland Basketball: Alex Len’s playing time takes a hit

Alex Len certainly had an abundance of potential when he left College Park after just two seasons.

However, Len hasn’t seen the floor very much as of late for the Phoenix Suns.

On the season, Len has averaged 19.6 minutes-per-game for the Suns. However, over the last 10 games, that was dipped to 13.6 per night.

In addition, over the past five games, he’s played 16 minutes or less in four of those contests. In January, Len hasn’t scored in double figures in any of those games and his biggest output was a pair of six-point performances against the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks.

One of the biggest differences between last year and this year is the amount of depth that the Suns have. Len is losing playing time to rookies Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss.

Ironically, Bender is the older brother of current Maryland forward Ivan Bender.

Len has started at least 44 games over the past two seasons, but has only started 10 so far this season. The former Terp starts in place of Tyson Chandler at times, but the addition of Chandler in 2015 has put a limit on Len’s minutes.

Even with the presence of Chandler, Len still managed to still get minutes and produce last season. However, the situation has completely changed this time around.

Len averaged 9.0 points and 7.6 rebounds last season and started in 46 contests. He also played a career-high 23.3 minutes-per-game.

Most of his numbers are down from a season ago except for his 1.3 blocks per contest. He does lead the Suns in that category.

Len excels at defending within 10 feet of the basket. Even back in his Maryland days, the Ukrainian native affected his fair share of shots around the basket.

Len has registered multiple blocks in 16 games this season despite the limited playing time. In addition, he’s had eight games in which he rejected at least three shots.

When Len has gotten ample playing time, he’s proved to be a solid contributor. During the 2015-16 season, he played a lot more because Chandler was battle injuries a majority of the campaign.

The Suns certainly believed enough in Len to select him with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Draft. However, it appears that there’s a logjam in the Phoenix frontcourt and Len could even be on the move.

According to reports, the Suns have had discussions with the Sacramento Kings about acquiring All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins. The initial framework of the deal included Len, T.J. Warren, and potentially multiple draft picks.

Obviously, nothing is imminent in terms of a trade, but it appears that Len is a piece that is being made available.

A fresh start could be exactly what Len needs. He’s shown tremendous potential at times, but received inconsistent playing time throughout the majority of his career.

If he were able to land on a team that desperately needs a big man, he could thrive. After all, he nearly carried the Terps to the NCAA Tournament during the 2012-13 season.

Len is also slated to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so he could leave the Suns even if he isn’t traded. To be honest, that could be just what the doctor ordered for the former Maryland star.

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