This Year’s Marcin Gortat : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14
[Truth About It.net player previews of Washington Wizards in 2013-14 -- For each player on this year's roster of 15, we take a look at what's at stake, an interesting statistic, and finally, where that player needs to improve (or excel) to make successful contributions toward a playoff goal.]
Eric Maynor via Conor Dirks; Garrett Temple via Adam McGinnis;
Otto Porter via Adam Rubin; Glen Rice, Jr. via Rashad Mobley;
Trevor Ariza via John C. Townsend; Trevor Booker via Adam Rubin;
Al Harrington via Kyle Weidie; Chris Singleton via Adam McGinnis;
Kevin Seraphin via Sean Fagan; Martell Webster via John C. Townsend;
Jan Vesely via Kyle Weidie & Lukas Kuba; Nene Hilario via Rashad Mobley;
Emeka Okafor via Sean Fagan;
Bradley Beal via Kyle Weidie; John Wall via Conor Dirks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE.
Emeka Okafor might be the most important piece in the Wizards push for the … wait … hold on (Twitter is blowing up) … oh, wait really. OK, let me just hit delete on the next several paragraphs.
So Marcin Gortat.
This is the weight of what is being put on the Polish Hammer’s shoulders.
- Ernie Grunfeld’s job.
- Any sense of hope from a beleaguered fanbase.
- The longtime viability of the Washington Wizards franchise.
Number 3 might be overstating it just a tad, but the Marcin Gortat trade is the last Hail Mary of the Grunfeld regime. If the Wizards make the playoffs, then
the baggage that is being attached to the trade (losing a first-round pick, mostly) all magically disappears as the PR department can start happily printing out tickets to a first-round postseason encounter against the Heat or the Bulls. But to completely fair, it has been extremely difficult for Wizards fans and pundits to hoist that baggage into the overhead compartment knowing the following things:
- The Grunfeld regime has a habit of making trades too early and not maximizing value. Case in point: the ill-fated Mike Miller/Randy Foye trade that still has people grumbling years after the deal went down.
- The continued habit of giving up future assets to secure “league average” properties.
- The fact that the move overshadowed the Wizards declining to pick up the fourth-year options of Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton—two players whom the Wizards had at one time heralded as building blocks for the future and are now seen as “busts.”
So Gortat, if he has to be something, is a magic trick. He is smoke and mirrors and a flash-bang of powder to keep your eyes off what is really happening with the franchise as they attempt to right the ship from a miserable preseason and come to grips with the fact that something is rotten in the state of player development.
Or Gortat means nothing. The season comes down to John Wall and Bradley Beal, and you ride or die with those two, not the center who was brought in because the Wizards realized that they had failed to enable the necessary development of any of their young bigs. Gortat is a mercenary. He brings with him skills that the franchise was unable to develop in house, so they had to pay a premium for his services.
Gortat means everything.
Gortat means nothing.
The talk around the “Polish Hammer” has been how all his stats took a precarious free-fall once Steve Nash packed his gym bag and headed off to L.A. and the horror show that is the Lakers. However, if you dive back into the 2011-12 season, you see nothing but smiles and rainbows in Gortat’s stat line. Though he certainly isn’t Emeka Okafor in the rebounding department, he isn’t Kevin Seraphin or JaVale McGee, either. In that glorious year with Nash at the point, Gortat basically Hoovered up the rebounds (10.0 avg) with an incredibly weak cast of supporting characters, which included Jared Dudley, the lesser Lopez brother, the immortal Hakim Warrick, and some bits and bobs that the Suns managed to pick up off the street.
The most fascinating stat line can be found at the top of Gortat’s Basketball-Reference.com page for that season. Gortat started and played in 66 games for the Suns. The final result: 66 Starts, 33 Wins, 33 Losses, 31 Double-Doubles.
I am sure that a numerologist would have something to say about that line. I’ll leave the prognosticating to Nostradamus.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
Honestly, nothing. Gortat is in D.C. to do whatever rendition of Okafor he is capable of for the duration of the season. This will mean less stout defense and rebounds over the course of the year, but there will also be many less flat-footed jumpers and an incredibly improved pick-and-roll game. Gortat, essentially, is a weird amalgam of the games of JaVale McGee and Emeka Okafor—and Poland could certainly be a bizarro medium between Okafor’s Nigerian heritage and whatever planet JaVale is from. Gortat certainly lacks McGee’s otherworldly athleticism, but makes up for it with a basketball IQ that puts McGee in a dunce cap.* However, he isn’t the game changer that either player was on the defensive end.
[*Bradley Beal on Gortat via Wizards Twitter today: "He's picked up the plays faster than anyone I've ever seen."]
Gortat’s role for 2013-14 is to essentially be a facilitator. He keeps Nene happy by keeping Nene at the 4 position so there will be less mysterious dings and dents. He keeps John Wall from strangling Kevin Seraphin. He takes the pressure off the small forward spot by soaking up some of the defensive pressure which may allow coach Randy Wittman to give up on the “Trevor Ariza starting experiment” when the Wizards best lineup is the one with Martell Webster in
a starting role, stretching the floor.
Gortat is essentially salt. You think you can do without in a recipe and end up dumping a bunch of it in at the end because your final result had come out bland and predictable. For a mercenary, there is perhaps no better compliment.