When was the last time the Suns had a productive true Center in their starting line-up? Amar’e and Diaw played that spot but were out of position. An aging Shaquille O’Neal is the last one I can remember but saying he was productive all season is a stretch. Steven Hunter, Jake Voskuhl, Jake Tsakalidis and others weren’t exactly productive.
Saying Marcin Gortat has been the most productive true center in quite some time for the Suns is not breaking news. Last season was the best of his career averaging 15 points and ten rebounds. However, I think his role with this new-look Suns team makes him a more valuable piece despite the fact that his point totals are down after eight games.
Last season the Suns needed a scorer. Gortat filled that void for just about the entire season. This season, the Suns have scorers. Monday night against a Denver team they haven’t beaten in two years, seven players scored in double figures.
What this particular team needs is a true center in the middle that rebounds both on offense and defense, blocks shots and defends in the post. Through eight games, Gortat is averaging just under 11 rebounds and just under four blocks a game. In fact going into Monday nights game against Denver, Gortat’s 27 blocks through seven games is the most through seven games in Suns history. He has been as good a center in the league ranking first in the NBA in blocks and sixth in rebounds.
When fans tuning in don’t see the points in the high teens or twenties, it’s easy to think that Gortat isn’t having the same year as last year and could assume he is not the same player without Nash. But the truth is, he might be more important and couldn’t be doing a better job. Scola is a better offensive threat running the high screen and roll, Beasley is a better number one scoring option.
Gortat is at his best on offense for this team when he is patrolling the paint and racking up second chance and garbage points while piling up the rebounds and blocked shots. That is exactly what he has been doing (minus a tough game in Utah) during this young season.
It’s a different Marcin Gortat but for the Suns, it is a better one.