Hometown: Lodz, Poland
Birthday: Feb. 17, 1984
Experience: 6 years
Draft: 2005, 57th overall by Phoenix
2013-14 Salary: $7,727,280
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Season Outlook: If this season’s main storyline is about a team playing without Steve Nash, no player personifies that theme more than Gortat. In just his second full year with the Suns, Gortat will be relied upon to be a big-time scorer, rebounder and most importantly a team leader.
By his own account, the Polish Gazelle is up for the challenge. If he’s not, the Suns’ record will say otherwise. It’s a lot to ask of a guy who has only one full season in the league as a starting center — and who did so with a two-time MVP facilitating most of his opportunities — but the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns will be remembered either as a floundering team without Nash or one of the league’s pleasant surprises with Gortat leading the way.
At 6-foot-11 and with the touch he possesses, the latter is not altogether far-fetched. The Suns’ big man will have to play like it though, night in and night out. The lasting image of Gortat from the 2011-12 season was his two-point performance against Utah in a must-win situation. That can’t happen this year if the Suns are going to make a push for the No. 8 seed. He’s a walking 16 and 10 every game. He needs to play like it, even when shots aren’t falling early.
Gortat has awfully big shoes to fill, but lucky for Suns fans he has some pretty big feet. – Dave Dulberg
Biography: Born in Lodz, Poland, Marcin Gortat has sports in his DNA. His father, Janusz, was a two-time Olympic boxing bronze medalist and his mother, Alicja, was a member of the Polish national volleyball squad.
Before being drafted in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft by Phoenix, Gortat began his professional career in Europe, playing in Poland and Germany. Traded to Orlando for cash considerations, Gortat spent one season with the Developmental League-affiliated Anaheim Arsenal before making his NBA debut.
In three seasons with the Magic, Gortat averaged just 12 minutes per game behind the game’s most prominent big man in Dwight Howard. Phoenix acquired Gortat in December of 2010 in a six-player deal that sent Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to Orlando in return for Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Gortat.
Gortat called Dec. 18, 2010, the day of the trade, the best day of his life as he established himself as a force at the center position in Phoenix. Indeed all he needed was an opportunity as he continued to improve as his playing time increased. Accordingly, he went from averaging 10.7 points and 8.1 boards in 23.7 minutes per game in January to 13.3 and 9.3 in 30.1 in February to 15.3 and 10.8 in 34.7 in March to a very similar 15.0 and 10.6 in April as he eventually took over the Suns’ starting center position.
Links to ValleyoftheSuns coverage of Gortat: