In just the one and a half seasons of playing basketball for the Phoenix Suns, Marcin Gortat doesn’t just look like the center of the future. He looks like the first premier center ever to play for the Phoenix Suns. (Shaq’s tenure was at the end of his career and for only 103 games)
The Phoenix Suns have been known for many things, but legitimate big men are not one of them. The Lakers have had Shaq (in his prime), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and now Dwight Howard. The Suns top centers were; Mark West, Neal Walk and the “Big O” Oliver Miller. The only comment to be made about the Suns big men is, “Isn’t Oliver Miller the guy who weighed over 300lbs?” Yes, that is the same Oliver Miller.
It looks like times are changing with the arrival of Marcin Gortat during the middle of the 2010-2011 NBA season. Comparing Marcin Gortat’s numbers to the other Suns big men, brings a slight glimmer of hope to a team that lost Steve Nash in the offseason.
Mark West – Arguably one of the best centers to play for the Phoenix Suns
- Fifth all time in rebounds
- Second all-time in blocks
- First all time in True Shooting pct.
- Played 82 games for each of his six full seasons
- Averaged 3.2 fouls per game
- Averaged 22.1 minutes per game
- Averaged 7.1 points per game
While he was a solid presence in the paint, Mark West was foul prone and could not stay in the game when the team needed him.
Danny Manning – The most talented center to play for the Suns was injury prone over the five years he worked center duties. He averaged 55 games in each of his five seasons, but averaged less than 30 minutes a game when he did play.
The Forward/Center – There is not another true center that have played for the Phoenix Suns that could even be consider of value, but the Suns had their handful of All-Star power forwards who were inserted into the center position. Players like Larry Nance, Amare Stoudemire and Clifford Robinson were all great players, but were not true centers.
The Future – After the two seasons at center, Marcin Gortat has put himself into the top Phoenix Suns center discussion. Consider where he ranks in the all-time stats for the Phoenix Suns:
- Number four in rebounds per game at 9.7
- Number seven in blocks per game at 1.4
- Player Efficiency Rating of 20.1 (higher than centers like Patrick Ewing, Walt Bellamy and Bill Russell)
- Number one on the defense rebound pct. at 26.5
While the numbers are impressive, it needs to be pointed out that Marcin was able to accomplish these feats while being traded during one season and having a lockout shortened second season.
In five years, the Phoenix Suns fans will look back with gratitude for the big man play of Marcin Gortat. In the reflection, the Suns fans will realize they witnessed the best stretch of big man play in the history of the Phoenix Suns.