Commentary

Gortat on verge of breakout season

Suns' center could surge up ESPN's player rankings, while Baron Davis could slide

Updated: September 30, 2011, 2:58 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh and David Thorpe | ESPN Insider
Marcin GortatJordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty ImagesMarcin Gortat posted some impressive numbers after joining the Suns last season.

As ESPN.com's player rankings reach the top 100, we had two of our Insiders evaluate a player who figures to rise up the ranks next season, and another who is likely to slide.

Man up: Marcin Gortat (No. 86)

By the numbers: For a while there, it looked like Gortat would be forever known as The Guy Who Backed Up Dwight Howard. The Polish center was nabbed late in the second round in the 2005 draft and subsequently spent the next several years playing in the enormous shadow of the best center alive. Heading into Christmas time last season, the 27-year-old averaged just four points and a shade under five rebounds a contest in an Orlando uniform. Not eye-popping numbers, by any means.

But there's a lesson here. Gortat's situation in Orlando illustrates the importance of examining per-minute statistics and looking deeper into a player's resume. Because he was forced to come off the bench behind Howard, the Magic could only afford to give Gortat 15 minutes a game. Thus, his per-game numbers were deflated by the lack of playing time. What did Gortat's pedestrian numbers in Orlando look like if we stretched them out to 40-minute average instead of the 15 that he received? Try 10.1 points and 11.9 rebounds. The Magic essentially buried an Emeka Okafor on the bench.


To read more from Haberstroh and Thorpe on Gortat and Baron Davis, become an ESPN Insider today.