|Gortat might be struggling, but that tattoo is still shining. (Getty Images)|
Remember when Marcin Gortat was one of the best-kept secrets in basketball? He was a really solid defensive player, hungry rebounder and an offensive hammer that was waiting to be dropped on the opposition.
There were times in which Gortat supporters even argued he wasn't a product of playing with Steve Nash because, even when Nash wasn't playing, Gortat was putting up solid numbers. Well, apparently it was the mere presence of Nash in the same building that kept the Polish Hammer's production going. Since Nash left and the influx of new Suns happened, Marcin's role with the team has lessened considerably.
Now, it has the sixth-year center wondering if he's even part of the plan with coach Alvin Gentry and the Suns. Via Gothic Ginobili:
Unfortunately... I've been doing the dirty work all my life, and now I have to come back to that. I will fight for what's mine. I'll try to prove to the coach that I can play an important role in the offence. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm even an option for Gentry. He doesn't even take me into consideration. The situation is critical. We're playing the same thing we've been playing last year, but the truth is we have a completely different set of players. I don't think it really works. I can't get frustrated now though, I have to stay positive.
Ruh roh. There are a lot of quotes in that translated interview that lead you to believe the Suns might be more of a mess than their 4-7 record might even lead you to believe.
Gortat definitely hasn't been used like he was when Nash was on the team. His scoring is down from 15.4 points per game last season to 11.0 points per game through the first 11 games of this season. He's taking 2.4 fewer shot attempts and 1.6 free throw attempts per game, too. His usage was 20.8 percent last season and is down to 15.1 percent this season.
We have plenty of players who like to create for themselves, but it doesn't always work. We don't share the ball as much as we have in previous seasons. The ball doesn't move around the perimeter – it usually stops after one or two passes. You can't play like this, let alone win. Basketball is a team sport. Nobody ever won a game alone.
In related news, Michael Beasley signed a three-year, $18 million deal in the offseason with the Suns.
The concerns that a lot of people had about going from Nash to Goran Dragic at point guard this offseason was the idea that Dragic was much more of a scorer than a distributor, despite having good assist numbers (7.5 per game) in the final two months of the Houston Rockets' season last year. And while he's averaging 7.3 assists per game to start this season, his passing isn't contagious like Nash's used to be. The ball moved consistently, and everybody was making the extra pass with not only Nash but also Grant Hill in the mix.
Beasley has joined the team and is leading his teammates in field goal attempts per game. Newcomer Luis Scola is getting the second-most attempts. Followed by Dragic and then Shannon Brown, who is fourth in attempts per game despite coming off the bench and averaging just 22.2 minutes per contest.
Gortat is sitting in fifth on the team at 9.3 shots per game. It seems like he thinks it's fixable by putting in the work during their practice sessions. And, luckily for him, he's not hopelessly looking for his former point guard to come walking through that door.
While in Los Angeles, have you talked to Steve Nash?
MG: Yes, he came in for a visit in the locker room. I can only sigh – too bad he isn't with us any longer...