On Wednesday night as the Phoenix Suns squared off with the Toronto Raptors, the Suns lost their starting center, Marcin Gortat, to an ankle injury. According to early reports, the official diagnosis of the injury is a sprained foot, which is likely to keep Gortat out for the remainder of the season. Given that news, Phoenix will get a chance to see what they have in the newly acquired Hamed Haddadi.
Haddadi actually came over from the Raptors in the trade that sent Sebastian Telfair to Toronto from the Suns. However, he is just now getting ready for action as he showed up in Phoenix out of shape because he had difficulty obtaining a work visa.
Coming in cold off the bench on Wednesday, Haddadi played just nine minutes, missed his only shot, grabbed two boards, turned the ball over twice and garnered four fouls. The Suns aren’t expecting Haddadi to be Dwight Howard or anything. After all, this is a guy who hasn’t averaged over seven minutes, 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in any of his four and a half seasons in the NBA.
However, as Haddadi comes into the massive work-in-progress that is this Phoenix team, the Suns need to see if he can develop into something of a serviceable backup or a competent big body to throw in the game. After all, in the 2010 World Basketball Championship, Haddadi did average 20 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over five games for his native Iran. He definitely has basketball skills, they have just not yet come to fruition in the NBA.
But that’s exactly what Phoenix needs to try and make happen—they need to see if Haddadi is ever going to be able to translate his skills into this level of professional basketball. If he does, then they have found a big man that can come in and give them solid production off of the bench. If not, all they gave up was Telfair to take a flyer on Haddadi. Either way, these last few weeks of this season with Gortat out will let the Suns see what they have in the 7’2” Iranian.