I've been reading all of the back and forth over Porter vs. Bennett. I've been weighing it myself. The long, skilled SF with average athleticism and the looks of a "solid" player or the undersized, high upside PF that either becomes LJ 2.0 or the next tweener bust. I hear the clamor for Oladipo, but I simply don't think he's a better prospect than Beal. Even Noel has his issues of bulk and offensive limitations. I've come to realize that we're overthinking ths thing. Go get the biggest, most skilled, athletic center with production and huge upside on both ends of the court.
Drafting Len may not be the best immediate solution, but he is the best piece to build a contender for the next decade plus. It's simple. Elite guard play from a penetrating, distributing PG and a sharpshooting SG plus an All-Star caliber center. Look at what Hibbert just did in the playoffs. Look at the fits that Miami has with strong presence in the paint. We're not getting Lebron, Durant, or Melo anytime soon. Rather than invest in forwards that will get abused by them over the next decade, attack their weaknesses. Counter this small ball forward era with studs at guard and center. Fill in the forward spots with role players that specialize in the different areas highlighted by advanced metrics. Create a committee of Martell Webster, Ariza, a stretch 4, and maybe a long athletic tweener to defend the Lebrons and Durants.
The issue with Len is whether folks think he can be that player. Chad Ford thinks he'd be in the conversation for #1 if he were able to workout. I think he'd be a steal at our spot. He's big, athletic and had great production in every area (based on his playing time, for those who attack his rebounding numbers, etc.). He has shown polished moves on both ends as well which show me that he has the aptitude and coordination to keep developing his repertoire. He has three issues, his ankle, weight, and aggressiveness. The first two don't worry me too much. If he checks out to not have a chronic ankle issue then I'm fine, but scrap this whole post if his medical doesn't check out. As for the weight, he's 255 after gaining 25 pounds the last two years and looks like he has plenty of room to fill out so I expect the trend to continue. Getting players to fill out hasn't been an issue for our staff either. The question is whether he can develop the attitude to finish strong in the paint and not be bullied.
I think that Len's aggressiveness will increase when he adds more weight/strength and because of his teammates. Len turns 20 in June and I think his progress already made in bulking up shows that he gets it. When a guy understands at 19-20 that he needs to put in his work to get strong enough for the NBA, then that process carries over and has tremendous results in the league. Hibbert and Noah are prime examples of how dominant bigs can get in their mid-twenties as they work to fill out their frame. The other piece is having Nene and Okafor as mentors and then Wall and Beal as peers. All four of those guys are known for good work ethic and basketball intelligence. I think their examples and leadership will help Len reach his potential. Their styles of play will also help Len. Wall will get him easy baskets, Beal creates space. He had neither of those at Maryland. He has the skill to learn post moves, pick and roll from Nene and the smarts and athleticism to learn post defense from Okafor.
Bottom line is that in this questionable draft, we might not land the best player, but Len could be the best piece towards building a contender. At #3 I see the potential to get Hibbert with more upside. That's a homerun in my book.