Orlando Pinstriped Post Photo / Bruce Maddox
Orlando Magic center Marcin "The Polish Machine" Gortat turns 26 today. Now in his third season, he developed into one of the league's top reserves centers almost overnight, going from the end of the bench as a rookie to second only to the All-Star Dwight Howard in the playoffs. He assumed top backup big-man duties full-time last season, in which he played himself into a contract worth the full mid-level exception from the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent. In a bit of a twist--we had already started saying our goodbyes--the Magic matched the offer to keep Gortat around.
It's a good thing they did. Though his statistics have dipped, perhaps as a consequence of playing for the Polish National Team last summer after a long NBA Finals run with the Magic, he's still quite productive relative to his salary and position. He could start for plenty of teams and could even average a double-double, with two blocked shots or so, for them. Yet here he is in Orlando, backing up the best center in the world, and not really minding.
Many happy returns, Marcin.