When the Wizards signed Marcin Gortat to a 5 year, $60 million, many heads turned. Some in optimistic glee that the Wizards locked up their first good two way center in years, and some in disappointment that the Wizards had signed a 30 year old big man to such a long term contract. Last night, Gortat showed us why the Wizards believed in him enough to sign him to that deal.
Gortat scored 24 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and added 4 blocks. He was getting his points in a variety of ways tonight, as opposed to settling for fadeaways like he’s done in the past, as Randy Wittman alluded to after the game. "It was big for us considering we didn't really have a lot going on offensively tonight. It was good to see, he was much more aggressive in his moves, he wasn't just settling for fade away moves. He got a couple of left-handed looks in the first half and one in the middle. He was really good."
Early in the game, the Wizards seemingly made it a priority to get Gortat involved, and by that, I don’t mean giving the ball to him in the post and praying for something to happen. The Wizards ran a lot of pick and roll early and found Gortat rolling to the rim, a skill which helped him thrive last year in Washington and his years in Phoenix with Steve Nash. As Gortat thrived as a roll man, he gained confidence and was able to take it to Anthony Davis in the post as well. He scored on some pretty hook shots over the shotblocking freak of nature, and he enjoyed it too.
"It's fun when you keep scoring and scoring against the best defender in the league. It is a lot of fun."
He also alluded to the fact that he was not playing at the level he was capable of in recent games.
"At the end of the day I believe that I should do this everyday. I needed a game like that. The last two or three games I did not play well. I'm glad I played this game and helped the team to win."
Gortat was shooting 42 percent in the 4 games before tonight and the team had been struggling on the defensive end with him as the anchor. A game like this against a player with the defensive reputation of Anthony Davis is sure to boost confidence, and it shows with Gortat when talking about how he can do this every night.
Gortat has gotten flack from Wizards fans in the past regarding his finesse play relative to his size, along with his apparent tendency in the past to get overwhelmed by superior bigs. However, the Wizards have done a terrific job this season against opposing frontcourts, and Gortat has played a big role in that.
This might not be an every-night occurrence for Gortat, but a game like this reassures to us what he’s capable of. Consistency from him every night should take this team to newer heights. The Wizards are characterized by their young backcourt, and that often leaves room for people to overlook him. He does not seem to mind, however. A free spirit with a warm personality that lights up the locker room, you don’t expect him to. However, this game, and many others last year, especially in Nene’s absence, shows us all one thing: The barometer for the Wizards success is characterized by a man nicknamed "The Polish Hammer."