When the Phoenix Suns have struggled this season, no one has been more vocal about their role — or lack there of — in the team’s ever-evolving offense than center Marcin Gortat.
Heading into the year, Gortat — one of only two returning starters from a season ago — had envisioned more opportunities in Alvin Gentry’s offensive scheme. While the Polish Hammer imagined a role with more touches, more shots and likely a higher points per game average, the Suns’ mindset didn’t seem to be in line with his best laid plans.
In the month of November, Gortat averaged just 11.4 points per game and took only 9.5 shots per contest — well below his average production levels in both categories since coming to Phoenix in December 2010.
During the Suns’ season-high seven-game losing streak — which stretched from November 28 to December 9 — Gortat’s numbers continued to take a dive. Outside of the double-double he posted at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks on December 2, Gortat was rather invisible at both ends of the floor (three games of six points and six rebounds or less).
For a center who often times creates offensive chances for himself on the glass, Gortat averaged only six rebounds per game during the seven-game skid.
Needless to say, things have changed for Phoenix’s big man over the last three games. During the team’s recent win streak, Gortat has been engaged, aggressive on the boards — against the likes of Marc Gasol, Al Jefferson and DeMarcus Cousins — and a focal point in the offense.
“I think he’s getting to understand that [his defensive activity helps his offense],” head coach Alvin Gentry told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Tuesday. “I think what he’s figuring out also, is that the ball is going to come to him as hard as he has been working lately.