Check My Stats: Gortat Responds to Wittman's Call-Out | Wizards Blog Truth About

Check My Stats: Gortat Responds to Wittman’s Call-Out

Updated: November 14, 2015


So Marvelous Marcin Gortat has taken issue with Ramblin’ Randy Wittman for “calling him out” about rebounding. And it’s fair for Gortat to feel that way. Or at least it’s his right.

Just the same, it’s fair for Wittman to highlight the fact his third-highest paid player, his center and anchor on the starting unit, procured one measly defensive rebound (three total) in 27 minutes of action against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Beefcakes Steven Adams and Enes Kanter seemed to have their way in pushing Gortat under the rim, where he was not in good position to grab a board. (The Polish Hammer is not known for being able to move mountains and establish position with his lower body, which is why the shape of the hammer is perhaps fitting.)

But, let’s turn to Gortat’s own words, relayed via Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:

“I believe a lot of the reasons [why] I didn’t get rebounds was because if we’re giving up 100 points in three quarters then there’s not much to rebound. That’s the first thing.”

According to player tracking data from the Thunder game, Gortat had nine total rebound “chances” (a chance is defined as when a player is within 3.5 feet of a rebound). Gortat had four chances for a defensive rebound and came up with one, and he had five chances for an offensive rebound and came up with two. Of course, missing out on a “chance” does not conclusively suggest that a player isn’t doing his job. Two teammates can arrive at a rebound at the same time with one conceding the board to the other, so that nothing silly happens like bumbling the ball out of bounds.

Going into the OKC game, Gortat was averaging 10 defensive rebound chances per game (securing 66% of those chances) and 14.3 total rebound chances per game (securing 56% of those chances). So there is something to him receiving less chances to board versus the Thunder (the fewest thus far this season), and that sample size having an impact on Gortat’s numbers.

Player tracking data from also features “Adjusted DREB Chance%,” which factors in “deferred rebounds,” i.e., aforementioned instances where two teammates might have arrived at the same opportunity at the same time. In this metric, Gortat’s Adj. DREB Chance% for this season is 78.8, the same as DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers. Of the 46 NBA players who are 6-foot-10 or taller and have played 180 or more minutes on this young season, the rate of Gortat and Jordan is tied for ninth-best.

Using a simpler metric, Defensive Rebound Rate (1), since joining the Wizards in 2013, Gortat ranks 17th in the NBA in DRB% amongst players who’ve appeared in at least 120 games during this stretch. His 24.6 DRB% puts him in the range of Bismack Biyombo, Luis Scola, J.J. Hickson, Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kris Humphries. The likes of DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Omer Asik, Andrew Bogut, and Kevin Love lead the NBA in this category, each securing at least 28 percent of the defensive rebounds available while they’re on the court.

Translation: Gortat is an above-average defensive rebounder, so there could be nights where he gets handled but still more nights where he does his job. He’s certainly capable, athletically and via his veteran mental skill, of being one of the better rebounders in the league. So when he does not make as much of an impact, which has been the case for much of this season, it’s going to be noticeable.

More of Gortat’s rebuttal:

“The second thing is I’m challenging a lot of shots. … The statistics don’t lie. I’ve been challenging a lot of shots. I’ve been helping in a lot of different rotations and I’m pretty much out of position over half of the time. The other half, when I’m under the basket, the ball most of the time just goes into the basket. So it is what it is.”

We can’t be certain what statistics Gortat is looking at—likely something more advanced than what’s available to the public—so we will turn to the player tracking data that relays how many field goals that the Wizards as a team and Gortat as an individual defend within six feet of the a basket.

Washington defends against shots within six feet 30.5 percent of the time, which is the seventh-lowest percentage in the NBA. Usually, opposing teams will make around 60 percent of their shots from this range, and the Wizards are generally around that mark with a Defensive FG% of .595, putting them just above league average.

Last season the Wizards defended against six-foot or less shots 28.7 percent of the time, second lowest frequency in the league, and allowed 57.2 percent shooting, tied for sixth-lowest with the Spurs. So it’s clear that Washington is allowing more close shots and teams are making them more.

And Gortat, who is really the only big man on the roster who is a legitimate shot-blocking threat?

So far this season he is defending 8.7 shots within six feet per 36 minutes of court time. That rate is up from 7.0 last season, which was down from 8.3 FGAs within six feet per 36 minutes in Gortat’s first year with Washington, 2013-14.

The big difference this season is that, through only seven games, Gortat’s Defensive FG% versus these close shots is 44.7 percent, which is over 15 percent lower than the normal field goal percentage of shooters within six feet throughout the season. (2) In 2014-15, Gortat’s DFG% was 52.1 percent (-7.5% difference) and in 2013-14 it was 53.5 percent (-6.4% difference).

Now, these numbers do not excuse Gortat’s play, but they do make a legitimate claim that there are a wide range of other issues going on with the Wizards. There are issues with using Kris Humphries as a stretch 4, issues with lack of interior defense off the bench (and with having to ever see DeJuan Blair on the court), issues with the backcourt defensive combo of Ramon Sessions and Gary Neal, issues with getting those players in new roles with different moving parts fitting in place. And of course, issues with John Wall’s career-high 6.0 turnovers per 36 minutes along with his 26.7 percent 3-point shooting (while attempting a career high 4.3 3s per game), which has dwindled his eFG% down to 43.9 percent (when it was 47.3 percent each of the previous two seasons).

Gortat’s concern, or lack of appreciation for, being the only Wizard called out by Wittman is valid. The whole dust-up, however, should be considered a non-issue … for now. Washington has struggled on defense thus far this season—they gave up an average of 119 points during their recent three-game losing streak—and this is something they almost solely focused on during practice this week. But they could also help themselves out more on offense. Gortat could settle for less midrange jumpers and Wall could do a lot more to get the pick-and-roll game with Gortat going, which could go along way toward keeping him happy and motivated.

The Wizards, chock full of established leaders and players familiar with each other, have successfully worked through bumps (and messages sent through media) like this before. In the ever-delicate balancing act that comes with reconciling multiple personalities into winning in the NBA, can they do it again?


  1. Defensive Rebound Rate, DRB%, is an estimate of the percentage of total defensive rebounds a player grabs while he’s on the floor—note that player tracking will likely soon revoke this stat’s “Advanced Stats” card.
  2. From any distance, Gortat is forcing opponents to shoot 6.9% worse, which would support his contesting shots claim.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.