'], ['t2._trackPageview'], ['t2._trackPageLoadTime'] ); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Recent Posts

Marcin Gortat Top 10 Center

So I got into a little discussion with some commenters on here about whether or not Marcin Gortat is a great defensive center. Now I have always believed that he was, constantly defending him against those who claim he is only good or adequate. I had never really searched for stats, though, that would back up my opinion until a couple of days ago and lets just say, we are lucky to have him!

Let’s jump right in!

First off this is going to be as visual as possible with a bit of analysis. If you get bored then look at the pretty number pictures!

6956867793_c758110392_medium

Okay lets look at this first little chart that I found from Hoopstats.com, as you can see this is arranged by efficiency and looks only at centers in this league. I chose only centers because it would be unfair to compare defensive statistics against other positions since certain positions are better suited for certain stats.

By just glancing at it Marcin Gortat is ranked at #4 with a fantastic efficiency of 21.9; while this stat does not focus solely on defense, we at least know that when looking at all the numbers combined he is not only in the top 10, but the top 5. In fact only trailing Howard, Bynum, and Mark Gasol can be seen as a fantastic bonus for the Suns.

6810757526_c5cf13936b_medium

6956867951_8d435c8b1b_medium

Okay so efficiency is all fine and dandy, but it really isn’t why we came to read this article. We want defensive stats, and don’t worry he is above the pack in those as well. In these two charts we will look at his effectiveness as a rebounder. As a defensive rebounder he ranks 3rd leap frogging over Mark Gasol with a fantastic rebound rate of 7.9 per game meaning he has a good feel for the ball as well as the desire to chase after it. As an overall rebounder he ranks 5th on the list at 10.6 a game with the ability to put up astounding board numbers on any given night. Recently he just pulled down an impressive 17 boards against the solid big men on the Kings. So far so good, he is efficient and he is a great defensive rebounder, but what about the other necessary statistics like blocks?

6956867917_4e8fca0255_medium

As a shot blocker Marcin Gortat is a little lower than I expected, but this does not mean that he isn’t effective at patrolling the paint. Registering 1.6 blocks a game has him tied with the 12th spot and his name amongst some very prestigious company. Interestingly enough Dwight Howard is even underperforming in this category ranking in at number 5, something that he normally dominates. If you look at the total blocks Marcin is even higher on this list ranking 10th which again puts him in that upper echelon of defensive big men.

The other thing I would like to point out is that with the block statistic in particular there are often mistakes when calculating it, since many would like altering shots considered in the taking of the stat. If we were to consider this in his totals I would guess that he would rank even higher. So although he isn’t the outstanding shot blocker that Javal McGee is, he still is great easily altering shots and making the offensive player work hard for his points.

6810757682_8bf8c3088b_medium

This next graphic I really like because it quickly summarizes not only his defensive accomplishments, but also his offensive skills. It still amazes me that a Top 10 center could go so unnoticed even if he was playing behind Dwight Howard. If you look at his production when they go from Howard to Gortat the production doesn’t waiver much, and his instincts might even be better than the big guys in some respects, like fouls where he ranks 40th, which means he knows how to avoid dumb fouls!

6810757714_6fbc408872_medium

The person that I was arguing with about Gortat’s defensive prowess brought up a great stat that I have been unable to find. Opponents field goal percentage. Unfortunately I have no idea where to find this stat for Marcin, if anyone knows or has this information please comment and I will update the post. Now this would be great to have, but I would not be surprised to see that his allowed field goal percentage wasn’t as good as some may anticipate. Since he deals with players that like to post up, roll to the rim and overall get their shots in close, their field goal percentage is going to be higher then maybe that of a person guarding a shooting guard.

This last set of stats is one of the more interesting ones, it takes all of the games where Gortat has played over 25 minutes and beaten his opponent in efficiency. While this doesn’t show the games he failed to do this, it does show his potential and his consistency.

I think overall, through these different perspectives on stats it is fairly clear to see that Marcin Gortat is not only a top 10 Center, but possibly top 5. Defensively, his skills are perfectly suited to compete with the best and is very effective at not only slowing down opposing centers, but keeping them off the glass and protecting the rim. If we were to nitpick, his only area where he doesn’t rank well, at 23rd, is offensive rebounds per game. I would like to see a more concerted effort by the big man in this area and I don’t see why this cannot be improved.

Dragons Breath

Goran Dragic, need I say more.  The kid can play and when they give him a chance he shows them games that point guards can envy.  He has gotten a chance to start 2 games this season so far and has already made them some memorable ones.  Lets go to the stats.

38 min 4rb  10ast  17pts

35 min 3rb  5ast  17pts

40min 3rb  10ast  14pts

40min 4rb  10ast  16pts

31min 3rb  3ast  *32pts

30min 4rb  4ast  5pts

30min 4rb  6ast  16pts

32min 2rb  5ast  11pts

38min 10rb 7ast 14pts

53min 10rb 7ast 15pts

44min *11rb *11ast 11pts

36min 3rb 11ast 10pts

38min 4rb 8ast 20pts

Average:

15.2 pts

7.5 ast

5.0 rbs

*career high

Suns Locking Down the League

The Suns, yes your Phoenix Suns, are playing defense that ranks among the best in the league.  The same team that was made fun of publicly by countless players including Jason Terry and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks.  Well if the Suns can keep this up for more then just the beginning of the season we may very well be able to scrape into the 7th or 8th seed.

First lets look at the stats, the most obvious one would be points allowed, currently the Suns rank 7th in the league holding teams to a paltry 91.5 points a game.  This is the only reason they have been able to win 4 games in the early part of this year, without that their 14th ranked offense at 94.9 a game would just not get it done.  I wouldn’t worry too much about their offense, if the game against the Bucks was any indication, they were just working through some early season struggles, shooters tend to never lose it.  The other area we are currently ranked 7th in is opponents field goal percentage, so far we have kept teams to an average of 42.4% shooting.  Where we are significantly better this season, though, is in our defense of the three point line holding teams to 28.9% for a rank of 5th in the league.  That is a fantastic number, but could get even better if we can get better in a couple areas.

The first area that I have noticed we still lack is offensive rebounding, over the past couple games the Suns have kept teams from shooting well, but they have had a lot of chances which keeps them in the game even when they shouldn’t be.  Last game to the bucks we gave up a less then stellar 15 offensive rebounds, if we had managed to keep them off the boards, we would have won by 40.  Much of this will get covered up easily now that our offense is back, but when we play better defensive teams we will find ourselves out of the games if we can’t find a way to get even better.  Luckily it seems this season our team is not satisfied with the little bit of success that we have already seen.  Marcin Gortat quieted excitement, “First of all, I have to say, ‘Let’s not get excited,’” Gortat said. “This is just two games and right now we are playing good basketball.”  It would be smart to understand that this is very early in the season still and 4 wins is just not enough to go off of.  Either way there is some reason to get excited for a team that can scrape together wins even when their offense is still a little anemic.

Longing for Sunny Days in Phoenix

This season has gotten off to an ugly start, the team currently sits at a record of 2 wins 4 losses and has only been competitive in a couple of the losses.  The two wins we have seen a Suns team that can produce stingy defense that rates in the top of the league and even in the losses have managed to keep shooting percentages down to a reasonable level.  What we seem to be lacking is consistency.  In every department we have found a way to succeed for portions of a game, but have yet to find they cohesion we need to put up the same offensive numbers, keep opposing offenses off of the glass, and we have yet to find a way to run the bench in a way that produces wins.

Lets dig a little deeper into these games.  What we can see by looking simply at rebounding numbers is that when we rebound over 45 in a game, we will win.  We have the make up to be a team that can average that with ease, with a fantastic rebounder in Marcin Gortat, a Channing Frye with a newly found affinity for eating glass, and two backups in Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris who, when they want to, can rebound with the best.  Between the three of them we should be getting 30 to 35 boards a game that only leaves 10 boards for the rest of the team to go and scoop up and they can more then do that.  What has really killed us in games is offensive rebounds, teams we have played seemed to have much more desire when crashing the glass then we did except for in the 2 games we won, I want to see that again, and they will need to repeat that if they feel like winning some games this season.

The other major area that has been killing us in games is our shooting percentage, now I know that we are not nearly as talented as some of the teams in the past, but when you hold a team to 42 percent you have to shoot better then that to beat them.  This is still a team that has enough threats to put a ton of points on the board, especially with a aging by incredibly talented point guard in Steve Nash.  The problem hasn’t been Nash, though, it has been the recipients of the passes missing shots, I think they owe it to the man to hit their wide open shots more often then not.  Lets make the old man the league leader in a assists once again.

I believe that if they can just find a consistency in their offense and defense, though, they will scrape out more wins then most people think…it is still early in the season after all.  One way I see this happening is with a revitalized Michael Redd and a more consistent Grant Hill, this season will depend upon the oldest on the team to really pave the way for the youth.

Blowouts, Offense, Michael Redd…Oh My!

So the Suns got blown out last night, and it was a bit painful to watch.  What it comes down to is that we just played terrible offense, we shot a terrible 41% from the field and that was much worse during the first 3 quarters.  It wasn’t until all of the starters were out that we started to hit anything.  The only two players with a positive +/- was Markieff Morris and Sebastian Telfair.  Defensively, we weren’t very good last game, the 76ers shot a respectable 47% from the field and only looked frustrated in the first 12 minutes of the game.  The way we played last night just isn’t gonna get it done…

The most glaring problem, though, is the offense all around.  The Suns just don’t look like the teams of old, they have problems spacing the floor, can’t find consistent post play, and worst of all they cannot hit their open shots.  At least two of those things have to give to start winning games, and since our 3 point shooting has seriously decreased without a player that draws a lot of attention I think we have to rely on post play.  With a re-surging Robin Lopez and a gritty rookie in Markieff Morris I think we have found our go to duo.  We will still need to get Marcin and Channing Frye back in rhythm though in order to do any serious damage.  Soon Marcin will be back to full health and wont look tentative, and thats when we need to really take advantage of mismatches in the post.  Channing is working through his own demons and I hope that he can find his stroke soon cause we used to be able to rely on him for at least 12 points a game.  Right now Hakim Warrick looks like the most potent scorer on our team, and well frankly, a scary thought.  If Warrick has to play extended minutes we can kiss our improved defense goodbye, countless times I noticed him running at the person he was supposed to be defending.

On a more positive note the Phoenix Suns just signed veteran guard Michael Redd, this is a great move with little risk.  He is going to be a small contract with large possibilities, remember that he was once relied on to produce 20 points per game and although he lost much of his explosiveness he is coming into one of the best training staffs in the league.  I expect him to be able to come in and add something to the team we have be desperate for…offense.

Phoenix Suns: Defensive Juggernaut?

Okay Okay, so I don’t think the Suns showed the best defensive game against the New Orleans Hornets, but we competed in an ugly game.  This is something that we have notoriously fallen apart in.  Considering we only shot 40% from the field and hit only 5 threes, we should have won that game.  We have to obviously take into consideration that New Orleans is in a transitional season, but I can promise that this team is not as bad as they are being predicted to be.  They aren’t a phenomenally talented team, but they have a lot to prove and they have one of the most underrated and talented shooting guards in the league.  Everyone seems to forget how easily he can put up points and now that he is the main offensive option he will do it even better.

Back to the defensive end, the Phoenix Suns managed to keep the hornets to 44% shooting and only 85 points.  If we can keep teams in the low 90′s high 80′s we will have a chance to win all of our games, what it comes down to is effort.  With a more active Robin Lopez at the rim, and a still elite defender in Grant Hill, and a much improved rotation structure I see the suns finishing as one of the better defensive teams this season.  This might be too early to tell, but all I can say is in the first game I found myself getting more excited over our defensive stops then our offense.  The crazy part is, there is a lot more they can do to tighten up the rotations even more and get better at helping each other out.  For example in the final play where Eric Gordon took the ball in an iso at the top of the key against Jared Dudley, I would have preferred to see Jared in his face instead of giving him space.  This is a bad habit from last season, when we couldn’t rely on our bigs to step up reliably, if Dudley had smothered him causing Gordon to put the ball on the floor and drive, he would have found himself trapped between 2 excellent rim defenders in Lopez and Morris.  However these habits will die as Dudley learns he has backup when a player gets past him.

Here is where it gets a little uglier…offense.  This is the second time that the Suns have called attention to their sputtering offense this year and it is a little uncomfortable when you have a team full of shooters who can’t hit the broad side of a barn.  Like I said in my last article, though, I don’t think this will last.  I think that Monte Williams, head coach of the Hornets, is a defense first kind of coach with a team that buys into that so it should be expected that we struggle offensively.  Even still that was a special kind of suck, I think with time the new guys will find the creases that will give them easy buckets and Grant Hill will work his way back into shape.  Offense isn’t what worries me if we can continue to work on D the way we started the season.

I am still going to predict the Suns finishing at the 8th seed, and this time it is based purely on defense.  Also looking around the western conference I just don’t see the kind of talent that many others see.  I think that Minnesota will still suck, Sacramento will have it’s bubble burst, portland still can’t compete against the big teams, New Orleans is a 9th seed best case scenario, and Utah is the worst team in the west.  That only leaves Golden State, Houston and Memphis to deal with and only Memphis scares me.

Pre-Season Wrap Up

So the pre-season was not a pretty brand of basketball to watch, well at least for the Suns.  They suffered two bad losses at the hands of the run and gun Nuggets, first by 17 and then by a whopping 25.  There are positives to take away from these games, and they aren’t the things you might expect.  First major positive is our rookie Markieff Morris, lets just say the guy can flat out play and he will surely be a fan favorite.  In the first game he put up a very good 12 points and 8 rebounds, and while he evenutally fouled out he played a really good all around game.  In the second game he really shined in 17 minutes he scored 12 pulled down 7 boards and got 3 blocks and 1 steal.  That is a real productive stint on the floor.  I expect him to keep this play up, although he needs to keep an eye on his fouls.  Shannon Brown played well in the second game shooting 5 for 11 from the field for 14 points.  He does have a tendency to jack up shots, but if he is making them then more power to him.  We also saw two game from Hakim Warrick where he showcased his much improved mid ranged game, hopefully this isn’t just a fleeting skill and he can continue to stretch the floor for our bigs.  Robin Lopez seems to be rebounding the ball better and has his bounce back, expect a good season from him.

This seems like all good news, but it isn’t, although every big man, but Channing Frye is really settled in we have almost no contribution from our small forward, I expect we may see a shakeup at that position maybe playing Jared Dudley some minutes there to fill in the lack of production when Josh Childress comes in.  I am all for the Junkyard Dog getting more minutes, cause that guy is proving to everyone that you don’t have to be athletic to be good.  In 27 minutes he shot 5 for 6 from the field for 17 points leading the team in scoring.  I was actually wondering during the game why they didn’t go to the hot hand all game.  6 shots is just not enough for someone shooting that well.  His only missed shot all game was from 3.

Out of all the individual performances the key to the second game (which is the game I will be taking most of the analysis from) was not defense, but offense.  We shot a putrid 37% from the field 30% from 3 and 62.5% from the free throw line.  You simply can’t win games that way.  Just from the free throw line alone we left 12 free points.  This should absolutely worry me and have me thinking doom an gloom for the team, but offense has never been this teams problem and once Channing Frye finds his shot, Nash and Hill don’t go a combined 4-17 and Lopez gets comfortable with his new body we will be fine.  On defense we got to see a very good game.  Ignoring the final score we held them overall to 42% shooting and 27% from 3, we clogged the paint well, got out to the wing shooters and contested almost everything.  I have to say having Grant Hill to hustle down the floor and take a charge was almost euphoric to watch.  In the first 3 quarters we actually played some lock down D and we were in the game until the end of the 3rd, you know, the usual spot the Suns melt down in games.  We held them to under 38% until middle of the 3rd quarter and then it seemed like our effort and their luck went and flipped the switch.  This is where we will have to watch in the coming games to see if we can figure out how to lock down the whole game.

Overall I think we need to just put these two blow outs behind us, since the Suns have historically always played terrible in the pre-season, and feel happy that the Suns wont shoot that poorly during the regular season.