Alex Len to end NBA's longest active streak by playing in first playoffs

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Len to end NBA's longest active streak by playing in first playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Alex Len was drafted eight years ago and has logged 531 career NBA games, yet Sunday's Game 1 against the Sixers will be his first experience in the playoffs.

Len, in fact, has waited longer than any other active player. No one else has played more regular-season games without appearing in the playoffs. And only six players in NBA history have played more games with zero playoff experience.

"It’s crazy. It’s my eighth year in the league and first time in the playoffs. It’s been a crazy experience," Len said.

Len got a taste of the NBA postseason in two play-in games last week, against the Celtics on Tuesday and the Pacers on Thursday. Though it was technically not the playoffs, Len feels like that experience will prepare him for a seven-game series.

"The play-ins kind of felt like the playoffs. Every possession counts. You could feel the intensity was way higher than the regular season. It’s just probably the most exciting part of my career," Len said.

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Len took an unexpected path to this point. A former fifth overall pick, he was cut from the Raptors in December. The Wizards picked him up after he passed through waivers and became his fourth team in two years.

Len helped transform the Wizards' defense, first as a bench player. By mid-March, he was a mainstay in the starting lineup, making a consistent impact with his rim protection, rebounding and sometimes his scoring off pick-and-rolls.

In 57 games with the Wizards this season, Len averaged 7.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and a block per game. With Robin Lopez and Daniel Gafford, he has helped form a three-center rotation which has helped key the Wizards' defensive turnaround.

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Soon after they signed Len, the Wizards saw starting center Thomas Bryant be sidelined for the season due to injury. Len added much more than just depth at the position and has since proven to be a very astute midseason pickup by the front office.

"When I came here, it was probably at the bottom or the second-worst team in the East. Then, climbing all the way back and making the eighth seed, it was a lot of fun. We battled through and guys stuck together. It’s been a lot of fun," Len said.