2013-2014 Key Stats
Games played, started: 81, 80
Total minutes, per game: 2,665, 32.8
Points per game: 13.2
Field goals (pct): 455-840 (54.2%)
Rebounds per game: 9.5
FT pct: 68.6%
Last season, John Wall and Bradley Beal played some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen out of them in their short careers. Wall improved his game so greatly that it lead to him being an All-Star and Mr. Beal wasn’t too far behind. Trevor Ariza had a career year which earned him a “rest of his career” type of contract in the offseason. Nene was a force down low and especially in the playoffs. With that said, The MVP of last year’s Washington Wizards team was none other than the Polish Hammer himself, Marcin Gortat.
I remember attending last year’s Media Day at Verizon Center and we were just days removed from the news that starting center Emeka Okafor was going to miss significant playing time with a serious injury. This was devastating news for a basketball team that came off a disappointing season but had hopes of making it to the playoffs. Especially because Emeka was playing so well in the second half of the season. He was a double-double machine and it seemed like without even noticing him on the court, he came up with double digit rebounds and had a major impact on the game defensively. I remember talking to Nene at that very same Media Day and he told all of us that losing Emeka is a big deal and will really hurt the Wizards moving forward. He emphasized that everyone now had to make up for him not being on the court and pointed specifically at himself and Wall to lead the team both on and off the court. Just a few days later, Ernie Grunfeld made a move that not only saved the Wizards season and helped them advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs, but it made the Wizards Eastern Conference contenders heading in to this season and for the foreseeable future.
After receiving news that Okafor would likely miss a huge chunk, if not, all of the regular season, the Wizards traded Okafor to the Suns in exchange for Gortat and at the time, a protected first round pick. A lot of people immediately questioned the trade because lets face it, why wouldn’t you question anything Ernie Grunfeld does. But it was the first right move in a series of right moves that this team made moving forward. Gortat’s impact was felt immediately. His experience of playing in Phoenix with Steve Nash proved to be vital in the development with John Wall, especially in the pick and roll. It took some time for Wall to get used to Gortat’s presence on the court, but there was no question that this was going to be an amazing combination. Not just for Wall and Gortat, but it opened up the perimeter for players like Ariza and Beal to hit the 3 point shots. Gortat, for all intensive purposes, is the complete package when it comes to today’s NBA center. He’s big, he can muscle down low, he can block shots, and he can hit the mid range jumper. I guess you could say the only thing left is a 3-point shot, but that would be too unfair.
The Best and Worst of 2013-14
The coming out party
His skill set was on full display early in the game as I felt like this game against the Bucks — yes, I know it’s the Bucks — but I really think this was his coming out party. Earlier in the year he had a game against the Sixers in which he posted 19 points and 12 boards but he out did himself later against the Bucks. Little did we know, it was a sign of great things to come.
The Polish Hammer
A lot of Gortat’s buckets were of the extremely tasty Polish Hammer variety. 54 of them are on display in the following YouTube highlight. In case you were wondering what a Polish Hammer looks like, here you go.
I particularly like the ones that highlight the Toronto Raptors exceptional defensive play. How do you not see the Bald, 7 foot Polish man running right through your defense? I’ll take the points. (Sorry for the Super NES quality)
Heroics in Indy
The game everyone remembers, and the game that I think personifies everything that this Wizards team is all about, is the Game 5 performance on the road against the Pacers in the 2nd round of last season’s playoffs. Gortat was a force from the get go after being quiet in some of the games leading up to that. A lot of people pointed the finger at Marcin and the rest of the front court and boy did he come back with a response. The Wizards did go on to lose the series, but, in my humble opinion, this was the game that really showed me what this Wizards team is capable of. Disclaimer: I’ve probably watched the highlight of this game at least 50 times since the playoffs ended. I also have it recorded on my DVR for daily dose of Wizards Porn. #NSFW
Marcin Gortat is awesome and here’s proof. Disclaimer: The Celtics need all the help they can get.
Marcin Gortat was far from perfect last year and I think he’d be the first one to tell you that. Often times when teams got easy buckets down low, Marcin was always the first one to face the music and place the blame on his shoulders. He’s a very humble guy who realizes what he has to do not for him to get better, but for the team to improve as well. I remember one game specifically against the Bobcats when Al Jefferson was working the Wizards down low and Gortat after the game called it a “very humbling experience” and something that he has to learn from.
As the season went along, not only did his play get better, but the team’s overall play got better as well. We often talk about how certain players have the ability to make guys around them better and this certainly holds true for Marcin Gortat. A great player on the court and a tremendous leader for this team as they aspire to be one of the best teams in the league moving forward. The combination of Gortat’s attitude and great play on the court earned him a well deserved 5-year, 60 million dollar contract extension which, we hope, will keep him in Washington for the rest of his career. A lot of people questioned giving a 30 year old center that much money but in my eyes, it was the easy and right decision. Unfortunately, it did come at a price. Washington was forced to let Ariza walk as the two teams couldn’t come to a mutual agreement on a new deal. However, with the money saved on not resigning Ariza, it did allow the team to go out and acquire guys like Dejuan Blair, Kris Humphries and Paul Pierce so I guess it’s not so bad. I’m still not used to this “good guy” Ernie Grunfeld stuff.
Gortat, fresh off his 60 million dollar contract celebrated the right way, By hanging out with me at Darna Lounge in Arlington, VA with some tunes and hookah. Trevor Ariza would’ve been proud.