It's been five years, but John Wall has the Wizards back
All season, the emphasis to Marcin Gortat has been to not drift on defense because of his lack of engagement on offense. The center is not the first, second or even third option in coach Randy Wittman's system, but the last two games for the Wizards have been perfect examples of how he can be effective in roles that are ever-changing.
Gortat got up 13 shots for 14 points in 36 minutes in a 96-81 victory vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also had a game-high 14 rebounds and a block. In Monday's 100-90 win vs. the Portland Trail Blazers, Gortat only took seven shots for six points in 35 minutes. He grabbed an game-high 11 rebounds and added five assists. His rebounding -- an area of inconsistency for the 6-11 post player -- hasn't faltered. Gortat had a 15-game stretch from Nov. 30-Jan. 5 when he reached double-digit rebounds just three times.
"That's who March is," Wittman said of Gortat's last two games. "He's going to have games like that where he's got 16, 18 points. He can impact a game in different ways. It doesn't have to be scoring. That's what I want him to understand. His ability to defend the rim, his ability to defend different players -- not just centers. He can go to a power forward position. He can move his feet well enough to do that. His ability to pass the ball, we're starting to see. You don't ever want one guy to focus on, 'Well I only have seven points.' Well you're still pretty effective in what you did out there."
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Gortat, who has season averages of 11.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists, has openly talked about his issues adjusting since being traded from the Phoenix Suns, where he was often the first option and ran a plethora of pick-and-rolls. He plays more of a clean-up role here, a background singer. Not the lead vocals.
"Somebody has got to do this dirty job for this team. Every basketball player would like to be a go-to guy. Each one of us would like to score 20-plus points a game. Unfortunately, it's impossible," Gortat said. "There's a way for me to score 10-plus points and contribute to the team. Getting those rebounds, getting blocks, getting some defensive stops. Those are the things I'm supposed to do. That's why I've been brought here. ... At the end of the day, nobody's going to remember how many points you score. People remember winners. That's the most important thing."