Alex Len: Playing the 'What if he stayed' game

Streeter Lecka

Alex Len is looking like he could be the top pick in the NBA Draft, but what if he stayed for his junior season?

As the hours pass, it’s looking more and more likely that the Ukrainian big fella is destined to be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft this evening. This is a huge achievement for a guy who struggled with a transition to life in the United States, had to sit out to start his collegiate career, and overall, wasn’t as good as he could have been thanks to injury and poor guard play.

So what would the team look like had he chosen to forego being a top pick in the draft? Well, he’d be the starting center, this much we know for sure. Unfortunately, one of the freshmen big men from last season (Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare) could be left searching for minutes as Damonte Dodd would be added to the roster in the fall, and potentially one *may* have transferred.

However, none do thanks to the injury Len suffered this past season.

Coach Mark Turgeon loved the way his small lineup played towards the end of the season, but could he really abandon playing his best players to accommodate all the big men?

Probably not.

The Terps would likely go with a lineup of Seth Allen, Nick Faust, Dez Wells, Jake Layman and Len to start. Mitchell, Cleare and Dodd would fight for minutes, and let’s not forget Roddy Peters and Evan Smotrycz.

That’s a solid ten-deep Turgeon could go. That’s clearly a tournament team, and one that could make a run in both the league and tournament. However, balancing the minutes would be a delicate task -- and certainly not an easy one.

Turgeon found a way to balance the rotation last year, and may just do line changes again if the situation called for it. Len would be looking at 28-30 minutes a game, and depending on the lineup, Dez Wells and Faust would be pushing about that number as well, that leaves the other seven splitting about 110 minutes between them.

So what else would happen if he stuck around?

1) Boston Market Re-Opens

I think we can all agree that, had Len returned, the company would have to be aware of the hryvnia or dollars that could be made from this. Sure, they would need to find a new location, but if Len returned the rent would be worth it*.

2) Maryland petitions the ACC and wins home games versus Carolina teams

As we all know, Maryland was done a huge favor as a going-away present by the ACC and they got to go on the road to all the teams in the Carolina's. Well, with Len back in tow, and passing up the chance to be the top pick, the ACC would have to meet Maryland somewhere in the middle to give this guy top-billing.

3) Sante Fe re-opens the week Len returns

It reopens the weekend before Thanksgiving, coinciding with the return of Len, because of course.

4) Maryland wins the ACC regular season title

In what could only be described as the best possible way to leave the conference, Maryland goes on an improbable run in conference play. Seth Allen and Roddy Peters have formed a point guard voltron that is able to control the ball, hit clutch shots AND feed the ball to Len in the post with regularity. The ten-man rotation manages to work as everyone stays fresh and everyone avoids injury. Layman steps his game up, and Smotrycz fills in for Aronhalt as the designated hired gun.

Len caps off the ACC Tournament with a dominating performance in the ACC title game over #1 Duke and caps it with a monster ally-oop over Marshall Plumlee as time expires to give Maryland a 87-81 victory. Maryland avenges their only loss in conference play, a loss at home to Duke.

5) Maryland and Duke earn a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament

… and are on the opposite side of the bracket, setting up what could be a monster showdown in the National Title game.

Unfortunately for Duke, they run into a buzz-saw in the form of Kentucky in the Final Four. Alex Len takes out all the frustration from the Maryland faithful over Big Blue Nation getting the Harrison Twins in the final. Maryland wins the National Championship 88-87 in a game for the ages.

Len is voted Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and also wins the Naismith Award. John Calipari is reported for recruiting violations shortly after his post-game press conference and Coach K retires from Duke, deciding he'd rather focus on the future of Team USA.

Instead of this wonderful Utopia we could all be experiencing, we're just going to have settle for a Sweet Sixteen berth. Mark Turgeon will somehow hold on to assistant Scott Spinelli and the Terps make a big run in 2014-15.

*Shortly after the 2014 NBA Draft, Boston Market makes Alex Len the spokesman for the company, and having the #1 pick in the draft on board sees the company soar to new heights.

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