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Evaluating Marcin Gortat

This week, 3QC will take a look back on each Magic player's 2008/2009 season. Each day focuses on one position: Monday for point guards, Tuesday for shooting guards, Wednesday for small forwards, Thursday for power forwards, and Friday for centers. I'll evaluate each individual player at that position at regular intervals throughout the day, while Eddy will make a general survey of the position later in the afternoon.

Marcin Gortat is first up today, with Dwight Howard due to follow.

Marcin Gortat
No. 13 Center
Points Per Game Rebounds Per Game Blocks Per Game
3.8 4.5 0.8
Points Per 36 Rebounds Per 36 Blocks Per 36
10.9 13.0 2.4
PER Rebound Rate Block Rate
17.1 20.4 4.7
FG% 3FG% FT%
56.9% 100.0% 57.8%
eFG% TS%
57.2% 58.0%

All statistics in this table from Gortat's player page at basketball-reference. Career-high statistics highlighted in gold.

It's not hard to put a finger on what exactly makes Marcin Gortat one of the best reserve centers in the league. He's big, for one thing. He's fast, for another. Skills are important, too. But plenty of tall, fast, skilled men have flamed out in the NBA. What sets Gortat apart is hard work. And I apologize if that appraisal sounds corny, but it's true. Marcin worked his tail off just to make it to the NBA, and even then he was only a practice sparring partner for Dwight Howard.

I distinctly recall listening to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's radio program one evening in January of 2008. A caller asked if Gortat would ever get a chance to play that season, and Van Gundy responded that his expectation was for Marcin to work hard in practice, and to perhaps earn a few minutes in the following season. Just 3 months later, in the Magic's first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Gortat leapfrogged the veteran Adonal Foyle on the Magic's depth chart. The move became permanent, as he retained his role as Howard's primary backup. It's hard not to appreciate the effort Gortat put in, both on the floor and in the weight room, to earn that role.

Gortat really does everything you'd want a backup center to do. He's one of the best rebounders in the league, he's a brilliant defender, and he plays hard. His athleticism and soft hands mitigate his lack of a well-rounded post game, and he's more-or-less automatic when receiving a crisp pass on a roll to the basket. The Dallas Mavericks, who will sign Gortat to an offer sheet for the full mid-level exception on July 8th, the first date free agents are permitted to sign, are getting a bargain.

This grade might seem high for a guy who only managed to play 12.6 minutes per game, but make no mistake: Gortat was a top-8 player for Orlando last year, and good enough to start for most teams. He did everything the Magic asked him to do, and he did it well. Really, ask yourself what more you could possibly ask Gortat to do.

It shouldn't take long to find your answer.

Grade: A