Earlier this week, I started taking a look at the glaring weakness the Boston Celtics had to work around all season long: their lack of a gifted center.
Now, the Celtics could deem Vitor Faverani the starting center of the future, which seems just a tad risky to me. Boston could also attempt to land a center in this year’s draft, which translates into “Give up an arm and a leg in order to acquire the University of Kansas’ Joel Embiid.” With Kentucky’s Wille Cauley-Stein opting not to enter this year’s draft, the only center truly worth looking at is Embiid, and the chances of Boston seeing his name still on the board when they pick is slim . . . so unless the Celtics want to do some wheeling-and-dealing to ensure that they get their hands on the Jayhawk, Boston may have to turn to free agency in order to land the big man of their, ah, needs.
After looking at, and passing on, Spencer Hawes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, I focus my attention on another big man who is set to become a free agent this offseason: Marcin Gortat, currently playing with those pleasantly-surprising Washington Wizards. Always one to seek the advice of the experts, I asked Ben Mehic, editor of our Wiz of Awes site, to give me the skinny on Gortat. here’s what Ben gave me:
- Marcin Gortat’s biggest strength as a big man is undoubtedly his ability to execute the pick-and-roll. Of course, it takes two to apply the play, but I’m sure Rajon Rondo would have no problem gaining chemistry with Gortat in that situation. Gortat flourished with Steve Nash because of the pick-and-roll and he’s has similar success playing along side John Wall. Gortat has good hands and he finishes pretty well around the basket, but having a capable point guard might be necessary for him to play at his full potential.
- Prior to the trade that sent Gortat over to Washington, I had no idea that he was able to knock down the 10-15 foot jump shot. He shot over 46% from the free throw line area, which makes him a duel threat off the pick-and-roll, since he’s able to stop and pop without always have to get to the basket. Gortat has also done a very solid job of protecting the rim and rebounding the ball. Washington has been top-10 defensively all year long and Gortat could be credited with some of their consistency on that side of the floor.
- A lot of things Gortat does on the court are surprising, considering his size, but they certainly aren’t always pleasant. Gortat is a skilled big, but he still struggles to score with his back to the basket. Washington has run their offense through him in the post at times, and more often than not, it doesn’t go as planned. Don’t get me wrong; he’s capable of scoring down low, but if you’re relying on his post game, then your team is going to have some trouble. Lets just say, he’s no Hakeem Olajuwon.
- Though Gortat is better defensively than I expected, he still struggled to guard bigs that are able to score off the dribble. He’s not the quickest big in the world and he’ll have a tough time defending athletic forwards/centers.
To emphasize his, “He’s no Hakeem Olajuwon” point, Ben included a link to this video:
Yikes. Look like he almost snapped his leg off at the ankle right there.
Here’s the deal: I like Gortat, and he’s clearly a step up from Spencer Hawes. He’s not a total defensive liability, and he will give the Celtics points from a position their offense didn’t see much production from in ’13-14. Still, if Boston is truly looking for a rim-protector, Gortat is not the best option. I say he’s worth a look, possibly as a plan B. Still, there are better options out there, so the Celtics should consider Gortat a fall-back option, at best.
The search continues! I’ll continue to scout the big men around the NBA; you continue to follow us on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics for our thoughts and Celtics news!