With the offseason departures of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, there figured to be some turbulent times on the horizon for the Phoenix Suns.
Well, consider that horizon reached. And that turbulence close to approaching this level.
Credit coach Alvin Gentry for keeping his talent-deprived group from the NBA's cellar (4-7). Then again, Zach Harper of CBSSports.com says don't let that subpar record fool you—things are even worse than they appear.
This roster is in complete disarray, and things are likely to get far worse before they ever get better. With their amnesty clause already exercised on current Brooklyn Net Josh Childress, there is no quick fix here.
Teams that are as talent-deprived as the Suns currently are have to scratch out wins by exerting more effort and playing better team basketball than their opposition.
Assembling a roster with offensive black holes like Luis Scola and Michael Beasley isn't quite the best way to create an environment conducive to team basketball. Neither is employing a scoring point guard (Goran Dragic) who's good, but far from great, at scoring (16.3 points per game).
Marcin Gortat appeared to be one of the bright spots on this Phoenix roster heading into the 2012-13 season. Dwight Howard's backup in Orlando headed west during the 2010-11 season. He responded by posting career highs in scoring and rebounding during that season, then establishing new highs a year later.
Despite an efficient 55.5 field-goal percentage in 2011-12 (sixth best in the league), Gortat's fallen out of favor in Gentry's pecking order.
His usage rate (15.1 percent) is actually closer to his numbers as Howard's backup (13.5 percent in 2008-09) than his numbers from last season (20.8). To take things a step further, he's actually featured less in Gentry's offense than Markieff Morris (22.8) or Sebastian Telfair (17.1). Taking nothing away from Morris or Telfair, but these players do not have the tools to attack players at their positions the way that Gortat can attack opposing centers.
With the roster in the shape that it was when the season opened, Phoenix clearly didn't enter the season with high hopes. Player development and growth have trumped wins and losses on Gentry's job description.
But the 28-year-old Gortat is not exactly past his prime. Not to mention the fact that Phoenix won the free-agent auction on the amnestied (32-year-old) Scola. And Gentry has shown no apprehension to feature Scola prominently in his offense (22.6 usage percentage, fourth highest on the team).
Even if Gortat is not part of this organization's future plans, they would be doing themselves a disservice not involving him more. With few other coveted assets on the roster, the four years and $30 million remaining on his deal appears far from impossible to move.
The Suns need to simply stockpile talent at this point. In order to accomplish that, they will need to keep Gortat's value high, either on their roster or in a potential deal down the line.
All stats used in this article are current as of 11/18/2012.
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