He is the one player many feel will be most affected by the departure of Steve Nash.
Perhaps that is why Marcin Gortat, during Suns Media Day, said he was looking forward to playing without the point guard who helped him average a team-high and career-high 15.4 points last season.
“I’m going to try to prove it and show that I can play without him and I can perform without him,” he said.
“Obviously, there was a lot of talking during the offseason how I’m going to play and if I can handle the whole situation playing without him. I believe I’m an experienced player already. I’ve been in this league for a few years right now. I got a lot of point guards. I got Goran Dragic. I got Kendall Marshall. They are great passers. I’m quite sure I’ll be fine and the team will be fine.”
Just how fine will likely be examined on a daily basis, especially with Nash still competing in the Pacific Division.
The Suns’ first test minus No. 13 will come Wednesday in the team’s preseason opener at Sacramento.
“I still think we’ll run pick-and-roll,” head coach Alvin Gentry said.
“Sebastian (Telfair) has gotten better at it and Kendall (Marshall) is going to be pretty good at it. Are they going to do what Steve (Nash) did? No, but I think there’s a lot of other things that we’ll try to do to counter what Steve did for us.”
Gortat, who came into training camp in great shape after helping the Polish National Team qualify for EuroBasket 2013, worked extensively on his game, specifically his post-up game in the offseason.
He said he is “trying to attack from a different pivot foot” after working with former NBA players Adonal Foyle and Bo Outlaw.
“I think I’m taking a little bit more time now. I’m a bit more patient,” Gortat said.
“I believe I picked few small details from Adonal Foyle who was an undersized big man. He had to actually figure out how to score on the post and he was pretty good at it.”
Gortat added he’s also learned a lot from one of the team’s newest additions, 16-year veteran center Jermaine O’Neal.
“He’s just crafty,” Gortat said of O’Neal. “I’m happy I got a guy like that here on the team
“When you score against Jermaine O’Neal, you feel like, ‘You know what, I just scored against the guy who was back in the day was one of the best players in the league’. It means a lot. He’s teaching me. He’s preparing me to be the guy that everybody expect me to be.”
And if the Suns expect to end a two-year postseason absence, then they’ll need Gortat (among others) to step and be that guy.
Last season the Suns were one of only four teams without a player averaging better than 16 points.
“I’m 100 percent sure I’ve become just better player,” Gortat said. “Hopefully, I’m going to show this and prove this this season.”