Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Viva La Ukraine!

During the NBA lockout in 2011, pro teams from China to Turkey and all places between pursued American players such as Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams, and J.R. Smith. Basketball has truly become a global phenomenon.

While globalization has shipped American jobs offshore, not so for the NBA where a flood of talent has come to the United States. It may surprise Americans who still see the game as exclusively theirs, but recent NBA All-Stars have hailed from six different continents. Surprisingly however, only 3 foreign-born players have played NCAA ball and were subsequently drafted in the top 10: Andrew Bogut, Enes Kanter, and Luol Deng.

With March Madness upon us and the NBA draft not far off, The University of Maryland has its own international phenom in Alex Len, a Ukrainian who possesses both size and athleticism. Len's dazzling array of post moves and shooting range could enable him to emerge as an offensive star at the next level, and his 7'3'' wingspan inside the paint may provide a bulwark defensively. Len compares most favorably to centers Bogut and Kanter, but seems to have a more complete offensive game.

The foreign invasion has not always produced positive results. Recent busts such as Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Frederic Weis, Darko Milicic and Rafael Araujo raise questions about how basketball talent translates nation to nation.
Alex Len: Future top draft pick?

It's been said the only sure things in life are death and taxes. That axiom is especially true when it comes to the NBA draft. The right organization, coaching and team are important factors impacting whether a talent like Len ultimately succeeds.

With a dearth of elite talent in this year's draft, every pick is a crapshoot. That's not comforting to GMs since history is already replete with draft day gaffes: Bowie over Jordan, Oden over Durant, and Darko over Carmelo.

Even so, Len remains a top 5 prospect. Viva La Ukraine!

Let's hear what you have to say. Do you see Alex Len emerging as a top player at the next level?

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