The Toronto Raptors seem to have finished constructing its center roster for the upcoming year. One day after re-signing Chris Boucher and adding Aron Baynes, the Raptors have signed seven-footer Alex Len, as first reported by Shams Charania. Twenty-seven years old, Len has spent his entire career languishing on poor teams like the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, and most recently, the Sacramento Kings. But with Toronto, he will likely have an opportunity to compete for a starting spot when training camp begins next week.
Len has some certainties and some question marks. He’s an underrated rim protector, having posted a block percentage of 2.0 every year of his career but one. The advanced numbers support his rim protection, as well, as last year he held opponents to a field goal percentage at the rim 10 percent lower than expected, comparable to Myles Turner, Chris Boucher, or Anthony Davis. He’s not super mobile, but the Raptors have plenty of experience in a scheme that switches one-to-four and asks its centers to drop back. Len should fit well into that scheme, similar to Baynes. Also like Baynes, Len is a solid rebounder as well. In the two, Toronto will have 48 minutes every game of such defense. (And Boucher will of course be the off-speed pitch, defensively, at the center spot.)
It is a question whether Len’s jump-shot is a real weapon. Over his career, he’s shot 33.3 percent from deep, which is a serviceable weapon. But he’s only attempted 288 triples over seven years. Over 200 of those came in 2018-19, and last year, his jump-shot dissolved in Atlanta. He stopped shooting them entirely (attempting only three total) after being traded to Sacramento. Toronto will ask Len to attempt open triples, but he likely won’t be on the roster long enough to enter into Toronto’s famed multi-year jump-shot rebuilding program. If he hits enough to keep defenses honest, he will provide plenty of punch on the offensive end. He’s a strong rolling weapon, and he’ll set big screens, if not as crunching as those of Baynes.
At the very least, Len is a scrappy player who protects his teammates and antagonizes opponents. With him and Baynes, Toronto will allowed Boucher to get most of his minutes at the four spot, where he’ll likely serve as Pascal Siakam’s main sub. All in all, a tidy piece of work for the Raptors. Nice bounceback after losing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.