home Blogs Marcin Gortat and the Wizards offense: PICK your poison and ROLL with it

Marcin Gortat and the Wizards offense: PICK your poison and ROLL with it

If I had to sum up Marcin Gortat’s short time in a Washington Wizards uniform, there are a few words that come to mind. If I had to summarize this Wizards team at this point in the season, I would use some of the same words.



The next word isn’t meant to critique Gortat as a player or a person, but it comes from my own experience of watching him play and hearing what he has to say after the games.


I know that you might not agree. I know that you wouldn’t have guessed that as the word I would use to describe it.

Gortat’s performances for the Wizards had made D.C. sports fans view him as one of the previous best kept secrets in the league. To the sharp sports fan however, we saw his promise from the NBA Finals a few years back with Orlando. He had one thing you couldn’t teach, height. He had another that not all big men are blessed with, athleticism. He has a variety of skills that most big men can obtain but rarely ever extensively work on. He’s averaging 13 ppg on nearly a 54% clip. He’s been good for 9 rebounds per game. In summary, he’s been good for the Wizards.

However, recently Gortat has expressed some concern over how he’s being used in this offense. I won’t try to summarize his concerns into some neat little package. You can read the quotes yourself. From a guy who usually takes ownership of his poor performance, his expression of being dissatisfied with the way he’s being used, followed by stating he will address it with the coach, was rather discerning for Wizards fans.

I’m not saying he’s totally wrong. As fans of D.C. sports teams, we always question the strategies of the coaches. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are completely wrong because we feel the need to question what every Wizards coach does. Coaching isn’t a department that we’ve been blessed in. We expect them to make horrible decisions and utilize players ineffectively to the point that it’s clouded our judgement. Can you blame us though? We keep ordering a 20 piece nugget meal and keep getting only 18 in return. It’s an expectation at this point.

On November 16th, the Wizards fell short to the Cavs at home and Gortat’s performance was a mixed bag. Early on, Gortat and Wall excelled in pick-and-roll play. Gortat took advantage of a poor man’s 2011 Andrew Bynum, which was ironically 2012-2013 Andrew Bynum. Gortat’s early pick and roll plays resulted in two 3’s, a converted Wall jumper, and also a slam from Gortat himself.  In the second half, Gortat had an opportunity to hit some open mid-range jumpers, and didn’t convert on any of them. After the game he was asked about the loss and what he thought happened in a game that the Wizards could have won but lost.

I tweeted Gortat’s responses after that November Cavs game:

What puzzles me and certain fans is the change in tone of the positions Gortat is put in and how he can succeed in these positions.  Maybe there is more to what he said. Perhaps it was a thinly veiled shot at Nene and his constant injuries that have kept him inactive, forcing Gortat to play slightly different when Booker has to start at the 4 instead of Nene. Or maybe he had an issue with having to constantly take mid-range shots in this offense that he didn’t want to mention before.  Either way, it’s confusing.

Just to clarify, I love Gortat’s game. He’s hardworking. He plays extremely well with John Wall. In fact, when he and John are off the court in any sort of combination, be it each of them individually, or together, the Wizards offense immensely suffers. These statistics from NBA.com show that.


Keep in mind that most of the players on the list come from teams with very weak benches. The drop-down in talent from Gortat and Wall to their backups and bench teammates in general is glaring (the Wizards rank last in bench scoring and minutes in the league).

This shot chart from NBA.com also shows a slight difference in the shots that Gortat attempted and made last year.


Once again, there are a few things to keep in mind. Gortat is shooting a higher FG percentage and averaging more points than last season. Mike Prada of Bullets Forever listed some stats from NBA.com in his own piece that showed that the Wizards, despite shooting 34% from the midrange, lead the league in attempts from the mid-range. This stat illustrates that Gortat is coincidentally doing something that the whole team has fallen into. Perhaps the whole team should complain about how they’re being used, considering that they aren’t very effective at all from the same areas that Gortat shot 3-for-10 from on Saturday night against the Clippers.

According to NBA.com, Gortat is shooting 50% from 10-14 feet away from the floor! I don’t mean to yell but that is extremely efficient, especially for a guy playing the center position. In addition to that, the pick and roll has worked wonders for Wall and Gortat. When it is executed effectively and Gortat feels comfortable in taking the open shots that are a result of the P&R, the Wizards offense is much better. That statement is according to the stats and also an obvious conclusion made from the eye test.  How well did Gortat shoot last year from 10-14 feet away from the basket?


This is all very confusing. Gortat said a few weeks back he needs to hit the mid-range jumper. Now he’s saying that he does not like the way he is being used. Now we know that Gortat isn’t being singled out to drift far away from the basket, as stats show that all of the Wizards are attempting shots too far away from the basket. We also know now that Gortat is pretty damn good overall from the area that he seems to despise so much. This stinks. Winning is the best deodorant. Coincidentally, the last time Gortat played “angry,” he had a big game. Who did they play? The New York Knicks. Who do they play tonight? The New York Knicks. Who let the dogs out? Okay…that one still hasn’t been answered. I digress…

My advice to Gortat? Pray that the bench gets better and #Pray4Nene that he doesn’t remain as fragile as a porcelain statue of a dandelion. Continue to take those mid-range shots (if they’re open) because you’re damn good at them. Get mad at Wittman because this whole offense is being utilized incorrectly by making them take shots as a whole that frankly the team as a whole isn’t good at.

What I’m about to point out is exactly why I love Gortat. The funniest thing about all of this is that a majority of the team isn’t shooting well from mid-range but they or the coaching staff isn’t taking ownership of it. The one guy who took ownership of it, then backtracked and said he wasn’t being used properly by taking these long jumpers (but obviously feels bad that him missing these shots is what he feels is contributing to losses) is the one guy on the team that is actually really good at it.

Confusing? I knew you’d say that.

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