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!
Wanna see the evidence, follow me past the jump...
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.