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Evaluating The Centers Using Statistics

Marcin Gortat Dwight Howard
Games Played 63 79
Minutes Played 12.6 35.7
1 year adj. plus/minus -8.06 +1.04
net plus/minus -12.5 +8.7
statistical plus/minus -0.03 +3.67
PER 17.2 25.4
WARP 3.1 21.0
Win Shares 3.4 13.9


As Ben alluded to in the past, we know the storylines for each player on the Orlando Magic. Instead of regurgitating the same information again, I decided to take a look at the statistical production of the centers during the regular season.


This will conclude my evaluations.


Let's talk about offense:


As I said the same about Hedo Turkoglu in my evaluation of the small forwards on the Orlando Magic two days ago, this will probably be one of the last opportunities to talk about Marcin Gortat. There was a lot to like about Gortat this past year. Offensively, his percentages (58.3% true-shooting percentage, 57.5% effective field-goal percentage) and his offensive rating (121) during the regular season were excellent. The latter statistic (t-1st on the Magic) shows that Gortat is a highly-efficient individual on offense. Is Gortat the most polished (get it?) offensive player? No, of course not. Gortat gets his points off of drives to the basket on pick & rolls, post-ups, put-backs, etc. Given his age, Gortat has room for growth but don't expect an expansive repertoire on offense from the Polish Hammer. Not yet, at least.  


His counterpart, Dwight Howard, had a special season. More so on defense than offense but let's address the latter for now. Howard's percentages (60.0% true-shooting percentage, 57.2% effective field-goal percentage) were excellent and among the league leaders. Howard's offensive rating (113) was above-average, but probably a little lower than people would like to see from him. Nevertheless, it was still Howard's best Offensive Rating of his career, up to this point. There will be critics that believe Howard has no post game, whatsoever, to which I say poppycock. Howard has a post game, though it is unrefined. For example, Howard has shown the ability to make a running hook in the lane but the key to the success of that shot is placement. If Howard is deep in the paint, that running hook is a good, high-percentage shot for him. If Howard isn't deep in the paint, as was the case against Kendrick Perkins in the playoffs, then that running hook is a bad, low-percentage shot for him. Howard has post moves that are effective against the majority of opposing centers in the Association. Problem is, when Howard faces off against players or teams that have the ability to defend him effectively, that's where he has trouble. This was the case during the regular season and during the postseason, especially in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. If Howard can get past that barrier - which he's more than capable of doing - beginning next season, then the sky's the limit for him on offense.


Let's talk about defense:


Marcin Gortat Dwight Howard
adj. defensive plus/minus +1.70 -1.09
opponent PER vs. C's 16.4 15.8
net defensive plus/minus +1.4 -1.1
eFG% allowed 46.7% 46.5%



This is a case where he numbers don't do either player justice, in my opinion. For Howard (and to a lesser extent, Gortat), he is an individual that can change things offensively for other teams. His mere presence in the lane deters players from attacking the basket at will and as such, they're not getting to the free throw line as much. It's no coincidence, then, that the Orlando Magic were #1 in defensive efficiency during the regular season. Why? Because the team held opponents to an effective field-goal percentage of 46.5% (1st) and limited free throws per field goal attempt to .209 (4th), as quick examples. It's safe to say that Howard is a main reason for those statistics and the rightful winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award. Add to the fact he's an elite rebounder and shot blocker, well, you have Superman. 


Let's talk about everything:


What else needs to be said that hasn't already been said? Marcin Gortat is an excellent role player who is ready to accept more playing time and perhaps a starting role with a new team - the Dallas Mavericks. If you're a Dallas fan, don't be alarmed by his plus/minus stats. That's what happens when an individual is playing behind, arguably, the best center in the league. The statistics become skewed. Given that his block rate and rebounding rate are eerily similar to Howard, Mark Cuban and the Mavericks got themselves excellent value with the Polish Hammer. As for Howard, he is a top five player that will vie for Defensive Player of the Year and MVP awards for the foreseeable future, with a smile