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Marcin Gortat wants and needs to become a better player.

For the record, the 2011-12 season - Gortat's first as a starting center in the league - was a pretty good one on both ends of the court.

Gortat was 8th among all NBA big men (C and PF) last year in Win Shares, 10th in WS/48, 12th in defensive WS, 4th in offensive WS, 7th in field goal %, 8th in blocks, 9th in steals, 4th in total rebounds, 4th in defensive rebounds, 7th in defensive rebound %, 8th in offensive rebounds and 8th in free throw attempts.

Clearly, statistically, a top-10 big man in the entire NBA. Not just among centers, and not just among Western Conference players. All statistics above were based on big men listed as C, PF-C or C-PF on www.basketball-reference.com.

But Marcin Gortat is not satisfied and nor should he be. He wants to get better, and he knows he has to get better.

One thing fueling that fire is the egg he laid against Utah where he made only 1 of 8 field goals and did not draw a single foul while getting his shot blocked five times by the more-active Utah front line. Five times. Phoenix lost that game by 12 points but it felt like a lot more than that.

As the Suns' primary offensive weapon (the Suns other starters in that Utah game were Morris, Dudley and Brown, along with Nash), the team needed Gortat to have the game of his life. In a good way.

He stressed over that game all summer - what he did wrong, what he could have done better. But what he talked most about at practice yesterday with SB Nation Arizona's Kris Habbas was the team's fans.

"I feel sorry for the fans, I feel bad for them. They were supporting us from the first game to the last game. Being the guy who was leading the team most of the games in points and boards, and all of a sudden the main game is coming and you're failing.

"You know, it hurts.

"The only thing I can say is I'm sorry to the fans. I will try to do better. I'm just going to learn from it."

Marcin Gortat is a human being like the rest of us. He reads what is written about him and there was a lot of it over the summer.

"I read and heard a lot of things about me being a different player without Steve Nash. But right now, I'm staying away from the internet stuff. It's just too much. You can lose your mind over it."

With the advent of year-round sports coverage and a concerted effort by each outlet to keep content fresh all offseason, we have to generate stories and discussions. One of the easiest and most polarizing topics to cover was whether Gortat could score at all without the maestro spoon-feeding him passes toward the rim.

Gortat had something to say about that while making a great effort to give Nash the credit he's due. Take note here that Gortat was not bashing twotime in any way, shape or form.

"I‘m not taking anything away from Steve Nash, but at the end of the day there was a few other big men playing with him and they did not succeed."

Channing Frye. Hedo Turkoglu. Earl Barron. Robin Lopez. Markieff Morris. Hakim Warrick. All could have been the pick-and-roll finisher on this team just in the past couple of years since Amare Stoudemire left town. But none did. Marcin Gortat was the one who could set the pick, time his release, dive to the basket and finish the play.

"It's not like whatever he touches turns into gold. You need a second person who has some kind of skills, some kind of feel for the game. We were #1 in the league in passing and finishing.

"I would say there was a little bit of credit for me too. He's a great point guard, I'm not taking anything away from him."

Again I will say that Gortat was not just showing bravado, pumping his chest. He was just trying to emphasize that it's called a two-man game for a reason and I have no doubt that Steve Nash would second that notion.

Gortat may not be the Hammer. He may not finish with devastating dunks like Amare did. But he found a way to finish the plays he was given to finish.

Does that mean he expects to be the main guy again this season? No. He knows his bread and butter is rebounding and that he's the guy the team needs if they want to stay competitive on the glass.

"Rebounding is gonna be always my issue," he said. "If someone is going to get rebounds, it's going to be me."

Ah yes, playoffs. That's where Gortat really wants to go. With Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and a shift to the 'corner' offense, Gortat won't be the Suns' main offensive weapon this year. But he doesn't care about that. All he wants is to win.

"I could get 1 and 10 or 6 and 2, that's okay if we go to playoffs."

His prognosis for the season?

"I would say we gonna be good. We just gotta get to know each other better. What I am dreaming about is surprising a lot of people, who are cursing us and (saying we are bad).

"I really want to win the games and see their faces later."

Wouldn't that be something if the Suns could win games without Steve Nash leading the way?

Poll
Will Gortat be better or worse than 2011-12?

  229 votes | Results


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Aside from having a totally awesome name, Othyus Jeffers is what you might call in baseball a "Four-A" player. He's better at basketball than the vast majority of the known universe, but not good enough to stick on an NBA roster (so far).

Jeffers will likely continue to seek out opportunities in the NBA if there's a team with depth needs at the wing due to injury, or perhaps will go back to Europe for the money. Or, he could return to the D-league to bide his time for an NBA job. Jeffers has three years with the Iowa Energy under his belt.

COURT REPORT: MONDAY'S PRACTICE | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE PHOENIX SUNS

Jeffers Released: With that being said, the Suns decided that they were deep enough on the wing, deciding to release Shooting guard Othyus Jeffers after practice Monday. Jeffers scored a bucket and dished out an assist in five minutes of preseason action.

By all accounts, Jeffers is a solid dude and real pro. Unfortunately, at 6'5, he plays the most replaceable position in the game and hasn't managed to stand out at any particular skill.


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Randy Hill, Fox Sports Arizona's fantastic Suns beat writer, has provided us some very important details about the new wrinkles to Alvin Gentry's system. As we all know, Steve Nash basketball has been pick and roll basketball. With inarguably the best pick and roll point guard ever to lick his fingers now in L.A. threading balls to other ballers, it's time for a change in Phoenix.

In comes the Corner offense which Hill, who is also a basketball coach and player development pro, describes this way:

New-look Suns have Dragic in their corner
The base system is known as the "Corner" offense, and – although Adelman once had former Princeton coach Pete Carril on his coaching staff in Sacramento – the structure is not as close to the Princeton offense as many have assumed. With more high-post action, the Corner has some similarities to the Triangle.

These changes aren't totally out of the blue even if they do make perfect sense with the addition of four recent Adelman players (Dragic, Scola, Beasley, Johnson).

Over the past few years we've seen Gentry slowly introduce more motion sets to the Suns. He used these at times to give Nash a break and certainly with the second unit. Then in Vegas I noticed Markieff Morris operating more out of the high post although that was often in isolation where he could face up and use his "Amare lite" combination of dribble drive / jump shooting to score points. (Yes, I went to the "Amare lite" place.) I recall him having some nice dishes from there as well.

Of course, Morris even at this point in his career, and certainly Luis Scola, are far better passers and decision-makers than Amare. With both those guys in the high post, defenses face a true triple threat (pass, shoot, drive).

With that kind of talent at the four, and Dragic's ability to run off screens and create havoc (a bit like a Rajon Rondo), this system makes more and more sense. Mix in Michael Beasley's ability to to also work off screens and Jared Dudley or Wesley Johnson providing floor spacing and an outlet against defensive rotations and you can see how this might all work very nicely. Even Shannon Brown is a good fit for this system and has experience with the triangle in L.A.

Here's a cool video montage I found with Corner offense plays from the Rockets.



Use this thread to post any Suns or NBA content/links/whatever that you want to discuss.

The floor is open!

Some links to get you started:

The TrueHoop-related blog:

Marcin Gortat wants to prove he's more than a Steve Nash creation | Valley of the Suns | Michael Schwartz

"I believe I'm an experienced player already. I've been in the league a few years by now, and I have other point guards. I have Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall. I have great passers. I'm quite sure I'll be fine."

One from a newish blog related to si.com:

Elston Turner's Impact | Sun-n-Gun

Ranking 21st in points allowed isn't impressive or even respectable by any means but compared to the points the Suns defense have been giving up the past few seasons it's definitely a great improvement.

And finally from the venerable Paul Coro:

More insight on Wes Johnson | azcentral.com | Paul Coro

At some point, Wes Johnson's shooting will cease being a surprise.

He shot 41 percent from 3-point range after last season's All-Star break, averaged 20.5 points during NBA Summer League and has carried over a torrid finish to training camp by making five 3-pointers in the Suns' first two preseason games.

And as always, check the whole front page of BSotS. There's a ton of new articles every day or so. Make sure you click into and read them all. Sean, Jacob, Jim, Blane and I (and Seth, even!) are excited about the season, and we want to be your one-stop-shop for Suns coverage. The great thing about the new 'cover' style is that we can promote many stories at once.

Get clickin!


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The Suns issued a press release announcing their annual open practice for the public. This year, the team will collect donations of gently used Halloween costumes, benefitting New Pathways for Youth (formerly known as Phoenix Youth at Risk).

"In honor of the Suns home opener on Halloween night," the release states, as relayed by the East Valley Tribune this morning. "The team is encouraging fans to donate new or gently-used Halloween costumes, benefiting the children at New Pathways for Youth, formally known as Phoenix Youth at Risk. Fans who donate will be entered into a raffle to win autographed Suns items."

Festivities begin at 10:00am with entertainment from the Suns Gorilla, Dancers, Verve Sol Patrol and Solar Squad. A live scrimmage will begin at 11:30am. After the scrimmage, many of the Suns will stay on the court to meet fans.


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