Gortat Ready to Shine for the Suns
Posted: Dec. 20, 2010
Expect Marcin Gortat’s “second” tour of duty in the purple and orange to be decidedly more impactful than his first.
Originally selected by the Suns with the 57th overall pick of the 2005 draft before heading to Orlando in a draft-night deal, the Polish-born center made his first official appearance with Phoenix at an introductory (and his first-ever) press conference with fellow Suns newcomers Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus at US Airways Center Monday.
Gortat averaged career highs with four points and 4.7 boards in 15.9 mpg through 25 games with Orlando this season. A three-year NBA veteran, he averaged 3.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 13.3 minutes in 175 games (five starts) with the Magic.
“I won’t begin shooting threes, but I’m confident in my 15-to-17-foot jumpshot,” Gortat said. “So, if there’s opportunity, I’ll shoot that. I’m 100 percent sure coach wants me to play pick and roll, and I’m looking forward to doing that, too.”
Expected to compete for minutes at center with his new team, the 6-11, 240-pounder is no stranger to getting physical on the hardwood. Backing up two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard ever since his move to Orlando years ago, he also matched up against the All-Star regularly in practice.
“You needed to have an iron jaw,” said Gortat about his days going up against his now ex-teammate. “I received a lot of punches and elbows, shoulders, but I’m ready. There’s nobody else who can hurt me in this league. I’ve been going hard for four years against this guy in practice. I was happy to get into games to play somebody else (laughs).”
Following in the footsteps of former Suns players hailing from Poland, including Maciej Lampe and Cezary Trybanski, Gortat boasts a potentially new “40-million person” fan base for the Suns, counting all the people watching him from his homeland.
“The Polish Hammer” is also averaging 14.3 rpg per 48 minutes (19th in NBA) and his 54.3-percent field goal accuracy would rank 13th in the league overall if he had enough makes to qualify. Gortat appeared in all 24 playoff games in the Magic’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals, averaging 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 11.3 minutes.
“Marcin’s worked very hard in the offseason,” Carter said. “He can run the floor well and rebound, and he’s a very physical player. This kind of offense here is wide open, so he’ll be a great fit, coming down the court and getting us baskets.”
In addition to relishing mixing it up down low while getting to show off his shooting touch, Thursday’s potential debut with his new team can’t come soon enough for the big man.
“I’m excited,’ Gortat said, “and I’m sure I can make a difference and help this team. Being in Orlando and playing five or six minutes off the bench a night wasn’t easy. You get frustrated, and all of a sudden you have this opportunity to go to a team with a great point guard, with a perfect style. What else do you need? I’ll be good.”