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Report: Cavaliers Could Select Alex Len First Overall

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The former Terrapins center might become Cleveland's third first-overall selection in a decade.

Jason Szenes

According to a report out of New Orleans, the Cleveland Cavaliers are leaning toward taking former Maryland center Alex Len first overall in this month's NBA Draft.

Jimmy Smith, a Hornets, err, Pelicans beat writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, says Len could be the top pick over Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter and the rest.

If the Cavaliers were to take the Terps' 7-foot-1 Ukrainian, Len would be the third player from the program to be selected first overall, following in the footsteps of John Lucas and, perhaps more relevantly, Joe Smith. Len would be the highest-picked Maryland big man since Smith went in the same spot to Golden State in 1995. The potential selling point of a 1-1 selection would be a recruiting boon for Mark Turgeon, especially as he looks to fill out a 2014 recruiting class strong on shooters but with a still-vacant front-court.

Even more interesting, a quick Wikipedia scan indicates that Len's selection by the Cavs would tie the Terps with Duke for the most-ever top selections in an NBA Draft, with three. That's fairly exciting, and it would put Maryland past a slew of storied programs, including North Carolina, UCLA and Kentucky.

How would Len fit in with Cleveland? That's a double-edged sword. At Maryland Len was at his best when he was frequently involved and handling the ball, and maybe his greatest flaw was a tendency to fade into irrelevance and non-assertiveness when not featured prominently in offensive sets. Mike Brown has never, ever run NBA offenses based around his bigs (probably because he's generally been coaching LeBron James and Kobe Bryant), and that won't change with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters leading the way for this bunch of Cavaliers. Len would probably spend plenty of possessions doing little more than setting picks, which doesn't bode well.

Yet Brown has a history of working with talented big men. Most recently, the already-established Pau Gasol had some success under him for a year in Los Angeles, and it's not insignificant to note that Andrew Bynum's best season came under Brown''s watch of the Lakers. Perhaps Brown could find a way to involve Len appropriately at the offensive end, while letting him anchor the Cavs' half-court defense (maybe learning under Anderson Varejao). And there's a chance that the team's skilled guards could draw double teams up high and leave Len alone with helpless defenders near the rim, where he was sometimes dominant in College Park.

For Len to be taken first, Brown would obviously have to like his chances with the latter scenario.