Best Giant in Valley Basketball (2011)

Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns

Marcin Gortat's known in the NBA as "The Polish Hammer." From the looks of him, he's a goon you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. At 6-feet-11 and 240 pounds, he's scary-ugly, a guy who has terrified opponents of the Phoenix Suns since his arrival last December from the Orlando Magic. When the trade for him and two lackluster veterans was announced last season, we wondered about the Suns' sanity. They gave up the most prolific scorer on the team, Jason Richardson, for Gortat, a backup center for the Magic. The other two guys the Suns acquired, Vince Carter and Michael Pietrus, were unlikely to improve the team's fortunes (and indeed they didn't). The Hammer, though, became just what the Suns needed: a tough defender and hardcore rebounder (almost 10 boards a game last season). Can Gortat return the Suns to contention? No, not averaging 13 points a game to go along with his defense and rebounding. Not with the present team that features ancients Grant Hill and Steve Nash, a franchise that gave up superstar Amar'e Stoudemire because owner Robert Sarver didn't want to pay him. But we really enjoy watching the friendly (only when he's off the court) Pole kick ass, and we pray for a miracle during the upcoming season — that is, some young studs to surround him and reduce Nash's playing time. Provided there's even a season at all. The players and owners are in contract talks.


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