Five Things You Need to Know About Alex Len
by Matt Petersen

Who are this year's Phoenix Suns?

With the 2014-15 season coming up fast, we look beyond the box scores to find out a little more about this year's squad, both on and off the court.

1. From balance to buckets

Long before Len emerged as a rising basketball prospect, he was doing work as a gymnast in Ukraine. His rapidly growing frame, however, ultimately dissuaded him from pursuing a gymnastics career.

The reason gymnastics took precedence in the first place? Len was a huge Jackie Chan fan, growing up.

2. The thing with No. 21

Len watched plenty of NBA basketball even as a kid in Europe. His two favorite players: Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.

As chance had it, both All-NBA big men wore No. 21, which made Len's choice of number that much easier after he was drafted in 2013.

3. He was born when?

The day Alex Len arrived in the world was the same day Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns were engaged in a Game 4 battle with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the 1993 NBA Finals.

4. Early target

Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough, then with the Boston Celtics, first saw Len play as a 16-year-old prospect in Lithuania. After scouting him repeatedly from then (2010) up until the 2013 draft, McDonough was convinced that "the sky is the limit" for the 7-1 center.

5. Give it up for Grandpa

Len carries an enormous amount of respect and love for his grandfather, who worked as a coal miner. The Suns big man often cites his grandfather's example of work ethic and perseverence (he eventually became a manager in the coal mining industry) as his own driving force in the NBA.