Throughout Marcin Gortat’s career, there’s been something of an asterisk next to his age, and for good reason. He didn’t start playing in the NBA until he was 23, and he didn’t start logging big minutes in the NBA until he was 26. So the common line of thinking is that he’s younger and fresher than your typical NBA player at the same age. However, it might be time to finally update the way we look at Gortat’s age.
He’s averaged over 30 minutes per game in the nearly 7 years he’s played with the Suns and Wizards since he was traded by the Magic in December 2010. His workload has been especially high in Washington. Only 19 players have played more regular season minutes over the last four seasons. Of that select group, only two players (DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond) have put those minutes in at center.
The minutes he’s played in Washington and Phoenix have helped him narrow the gap between himself and other players who started getting minutes earlier in their career. Since the start of the 2007-08 season (when Gortat entered the league with Orlando), only 61 active players have played more regular season minutes. He’s played more minutes than Joakim Noah, Nene, Channing Frye, and Andrew Bogut. He’s less than 700 minutes behind Tyson Chandler, even though Chandler played over 2700 more minutes than Gortat did in the 2007-08 season.
Keep in mind that’s just regular season time. Gortat has also played big minutes in all three of Washington’s recent playoff runs and has played in several international competitions with Poland’s national team.
Whatever advantage Gortat built up early in his career by preserving himself on Orlando’s bench, it has vanished with the way he has been used in recent years. The good news is, he’s shown he can handle the workload without breaking down. He’s played all but eight games over the past four years. Only five players in the league have missed less games over that span. More importantly, his production has remained consistent, even though he’s gotten older. So let’s stop saying Gortat is young for his age, and just say he’s pretty good for a 33 year old trying to make an impact in a young man’s league.