3 Takeaways from the Atlanta Hawks’ 116-111 Win Over IND

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Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 4: Alex Len #25 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks the ball during the first quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at State Farm Arena on January 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

1. Alex Len is Atlanta’s best center, defender, sixth man

Alex Len was one of the best players on the court Saturday, when he was on the court.

Lloyd Pierce started two centers, Damian Jones and Bruno Fernando, but both ended up playing less minutes than Alex Len, and for good reason.

With John Collins unavailable, Len is easily the Hawks’ best big man, and is neck-and-neck with DeAndre’ Bembry for the title of the team’s best defender.

The former Maryland Terrapin started the first nine games of the season, but played minutes in the mid-teens, more akin to a role player than a true starter.

Since, Len has emerged in his new role as the team’s sixth man, thriving and playing his best ball in a Hawks uniform, maybe of his career.

Against the Pacers, he scored 16 on 6 of 8 shooting, adding 3 blocks and team high 9 rebounds.

The latter two are much needed for the Hawks, who are among both the worst rebounding and defending teams in the league.

Alex Len is not a great rim protector by any means, but compared to the other big men in the roster outside of John Collins, he’s basically Dikembe Mutombo.

He’s also improved within this season grabbing boards, going from averaging less than five per game in his first 17 games (including 9 starts), to just a tick under 7 per game in his next 16.

It’s (very) hard to call Len the Hawks’ most important player with Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter still on the team, but he may be their most necessary player if they want to keep winning.

The 26-year-old is truly the Hawks’ best center, and has found his calling as the team’s sixth man.

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