The 2022-23 season will be one of great importance for Sacramento Kings’ center Alex Len, both on and off the court. Not only is this the final year of his contract, but the Kings actually have some legit depth at center this season. Unfortunately for Len, he is the least talented of the big men.
So as he enters his 10th season in the league, what can we expect to see from the veteran center? Last season was statistically one of the worst of his career, averaging just 6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in just 16 minutes per game. But even with both Domantas Sabonis and Richaun Holmes currently above him on depth chart, as well as the Kings’ added depth at power forward, his role this season will still be more important than it looks.
With Holmes' history of injuries over the last couple years, it is likely that Len will need to fill in for him as the backup for Sabonis here and there throughout the year. If he is unable to be efficient on defense and do his job on the boards in those moments, the Kings will be forced to play small and give either Chimezie Metu or Trey Lyles the minutes Len would be seeing.
This would be the worst-case scenario for Len, but not for the Kings. The NBA, as everyone knows by now, has transitioned to a positionless game. Having Metu or Lyles play center may be the smart decision even if Len is playing well. Both can space the floor much better, which is ideal with De’Aaron Fox or any of the team’s inside scorers in the game. They are also still big and physical enough to have at least some sort of a presence in the paint.
Len’s best-case scenario would be for him to take the role Matthew Dellavedova or Quinn Cook are looking to have and be the veteran voice for his teammates, because aside from filling in when another player sits, there is no foreseeable scenario where Len outplays any of his aforementioned teammates.
He will be most impactful by being a player-friendly voice for the other centers to come to for wisdom alongside of the coaching staff. As is the common theme amongst the Kings’ older bench players, the goal is to help the team reach the playoffs at any cost. Even if it’s from the bench. Holmes and Sabonis were drafted in 2015 and 2016. While Len was only drafted a couple of years earlier in 2013, that’s more than enough time for him to possibly have learned something his peers had not yet needed to know.
Sacramento has struggled with leadership for a number of years, whether it be in the front office or the locker room. However, the team now looks to be in the process of correcting its past mistakes at all levels, and hopefully Len can be a part of that correction.