I've had about 1 year and a month to watch these two guys play so I'm not sure how insightful this thing I'm about to write is, but hey, I'll try to shed some light on what to expect from these two players the Phoenix Suns traded for.
Obviously, the most important piece is Marcin Gortat since he's considered the (former) best back-up center in the NBA. And if you look around the NBA, there aren't good quality STARTING centers, let alone back-up centers. With MP the Suns fans expect someone that can run-n-gun and I think that fits well with the description of the frenchman.
More after the jump
The perception around the league about Marcin Gortat is usually positive.In my opinion, the general consensus about him, if you ask each general manager in the NBA, is that he's the best back-up center in the NBA and if he's given minutes at C in a situation where he starts (never mind playing with the best passing PG in the world) he can be so much better. This perception has legs, but it's still a "prospect high hope".
So, what are Marcin's biggest strengths? Well, it might be exactly what the Suns want from their centers: he CAN run (and he does it really really well) and he's a pick and roll player. You can expect to see Marcin run fast on the floor, don't get tired too easily (great conditioning) and being active. He's also rolling really well in the PnR and has decent hands to catch the ball when he's ready for it. When he's not ready for the ball however, he has bad hands. He "consistently" loses the ball through his hands and in an annoying fashion.
He can also play PF if needed, as Stan Van Gundy did play him and Dwight at the same time every now and then with the Magic. He doesn't do a particularly good job of playing that position but his limited shooting range is decent enough to play it for a short time. He's not really a good shooter, even from close, but he's decent from the baselines. Expect to see him shoot from there if it happens.
He's a good dunker (he can do a between the legs off one leg by the way), but sometimes he blows dunks and you can't believe it. In fact, the whole Polish Hammer thing comes from the fact that he "drops the hammer" (dunks). No, it's not coming from any Polish porn movies if you were thinking about that one. ANYWAY, he's not good off a standing vert so he needs a running start to dunk well, that's why sometimes he's missing dunks.
On defense, expect Marcin to be active. He's a good pick and roll defender because he's quick, the problem with him is when he goes away from the basket. If a opposing perimeter player demands a double team and he helps going to the perimeters, he's going to be lost completely on defense and that means the opposing C (or whomever he's guarding) is going to be wide open for the easy inside dunk. I recommend watching the Magic - Bucks game to see what I'm talking about in here.
The general perception amongst the Magic fans was, before the trade, that the Magic need to trade Marcin before anybody realizes he's not as good as advertised. We will see if that's the case but he played much worse this season than last season in terms of awareness on the floor, activity etc. He wasn't satisfied and possibly was "bored" to play in Orlando so that might mean something.
What to expect?
So what hope should you have for Marcin in the Suns system? Well I think you should hope for him getting into the flow of things really quickly on offense while on defense you can expect good rebounding (but not great) and good presence around the rim. Shot blocking as well. Just expect an active body on the floor. It's still impossible to know how he would play if given starter minutes but as much as we can look at, here are the advanced stats from 82games.com:
Who is Pietrus? Well, he's a goofy guy from Guadeloupe who likes to shoot threes and plays great on ball defense. Oh, and he won about 20.000$ from his teammates last season by wearing an afro.
Mickael Pietrus likes the run-n-gun offense. He should like it, that is. He must like it, that is. Why? Because from what he was doing with Golden State and so on, everything pointed that he's a run and gun player. He's not good in the half court offense AT ALL so he must be good in transition. With the Magic, about 80% of his shots (yup, you read that right) come from the three point land. His style of offense? Pump fake, one dribble to the side, shoot the three. He rarely penetrates in traffic to get all the way to the rim and if he gets to the rim he's usually dunking or getting to the foul line, where he's not particularly good. In fact, he's a bad free throw shooter. He's probably thinking about his shot or whatever he does, but he's shooting the free throws bad. Expect ~50-60% FT%. It goes as far as someone suggesting Pietrus to shoot the ball as soon as the referee passes it to him, which would be funny as hell.
There is a catch though: The Magic don't like to play run-n-gun offense since they need to establish Dwight Howard in the post. Hence, Pietrus' strengths were immensely limited because of that and have transformed him into either a spot up shooter or a guy who does the pump fake + one dribble shot. That's all he did in the Magic offense, with the occasional fast break basket once every three games or so. Oh, and EXPECT him to step out of bounds a lot.
So maybe he'll be rejuvenated if he's given freedom to run with the Suns. That has a good chance of happening. He still needs to work (a lot of it actually) with his ball handling because if he'd improve on that he could be soooo much better offensively.
A major weakness of his is being a black hole (never passing once he gets the ball). He did improved on that this season with the Magic visibly so there's hope, but once he gets the ball he's usually either shooting or turning it over.
On defense, he's a great on ball defender. He also doesn't make a lot of team defense mistakes which is great. He has good defensive awareness and he's there to help you if you're his teammate. He has good defensive position and stance, but don't expect him to get a lot of steals (as I would expect from someone like him and with that structure). He has a good relationship with the referees and rarely gets techs, thought that was interesting to know.
What to expect?
Again, you have to expect someone who will thrive in the run and gun offense once he becomes aware he has that freedom. That should happen quickly. Expect a lot of dumb mistakes too because, well, Pietrus is kind of goofy. He has a knack of coming up big in the clutch as well being the unconscious guy that he is (he says he lives for these moments but... hey :) ), if he gets hot he can torch you with the three, but at the same time, expect awful misses or, again, silly mistakes. So basically he's a man of contrasts, never consistent, always something happening with him.