With all of the bad luck the Sacramento Kings have had lately, the team finally got some good news. Center Alex Len joined his teammates in the Orlando bubble for the NBA’s restart last week and is resuming his on-court workouts. Len tested positive for COVID-19 on June 22 and was in isolation for more than three weeks before finally testing negative.
“[I’m] doing pretty good, I mean just gotta get my body back in shape,” Len said after practice on Monday. “The most important thing ... like they said my lungs are fine, my heart is fine, so we did some tests with that, and everything is good, just gotta get my body back in shape.”
The Kings can use all the help they can get in the frontcourt right now. Harrison Barnes still hasn’t joined the team in Orlando, De’Aaron Fox is dealing with an ankle injury, Marvin Bagley III hurt his foot at practice, and Richaun Holmes is still in quarantine. Their depth was starting to look thin during practice.
Len has played nine games with the Kings since being acquired from the Atlanta Hawks in February. He’s averaging 6.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, and he’s been a valuable contributor on the defensive end. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Kings give up 18.4 less points per 100 possessions with Len on the floor, which is in the 100th percentile among players. Len has a defensive rating of 94.8 since joining Sacramento, which is third-best in the NBA for players who appeared in more than seven games between the trade and league shutdown on March 11.
“I was playing well,” Len said. “I think it was the my teammates, and the energy around the team, everybody playing so hard, and, I mean, the the culture around the team is so great once you get it in. I was able to get and get rolling pretty quickly. You get on the court and everybody playing hard and it is contagious; something I was I was able to fit in really well with.”
The 27-year-old is averaging 16.7 minutes per game with the Kings, which could go up once games restart. With Bagley’s status uncertain, Len will split time with Holmes and Harry Giles if he’s ready to go by Sacramento’s first game.
“I think this is the longest time I’ve ever been away from basketball,” Len said. “When I was in Atlanta, I didn’t really have a chance to work out that much. There was some like running stuff, but I didn’t really have access to the gym. I still got another what? — we have about 12 days before the first official game? So we’ll shoot for that, but then we’ll see how the body responds.”
Luke Walton has already said Len won’t play in the team’s first scrimmage on Wednesday. Hopefully the big man can get back into game shape sooner rather than later and help the Kings make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.