Gortat lays it in against the smaller Budinger. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
For such a big guy who likes to mix it up on defense and grab rebounds in traffic, it sometimes appears that Marcin Gortat is reluctant to draw contact when he has the ball in his hands. He will duck and weave and fade like a contortionist to get a clean, unfettered shot at the rim.
Heck, the Polish Hammer doesn't even seem interested in crowd-pleasing slam dunks. I don't believe I've ever seen a dunk in traffic from our Polish Hammer. Even when the defense parts like the red sea, he is more inclined put up a lefty layup than rattle the gym with a two-hander.
But maybe I'm biased. Maybe my NBA-colored glasses are tainted from years of watching high-flying, slam-dunking Amare Stoudemire roam the hardwood for the Suns, basically playing the same position that Gortat now occupies, and regularly dunking in traffic and on the pick and roll. Maybe I'm biased by memories of Shawn Marion getting dunks in transition and on back-door cuts. And certainly I'm biased by the sports network highlight reels.
In fact, a quick look at basketball-reference.com shows me evidence of my bias.
Gortat ranks 12th in the league among centers (C, C-F, F-C) in free-throw attempts per game, even though its a mere 3.8. That's nothing to sneeze at.
You might argue that some of those guys don't get the touches that Gortat gets, so of course they won't get the foul calls either. But even when you rank Gortat in terms of those centers with the highest field goal attempts per 36 minutes (ie. the most offense-oriented centers), Gortat still compares favorably.
So maybe I've just been harsh on Gortat because I was spoiled by Amare's ferociousness.
Instead, I should be thrilled with his consistent 15, 10 and 2 along with stellar defense, and stop waiting for the Hammer part of his nickname to emerge in the form of Amare Stoudemire.
Marcin's Hammer is his consistency - just like a carpenter's hammer. Every game is like a fresh nail. He pounds the floor, pounds the opposition and delivers the same results. 15 points. 10 rebounds. 2 blocks. Stellar defense.