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Marcin Gortat is the top screen assister of the NBA Playoffs

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Gortat averages 7.4 screen assists per game in the playoffs, where his screens lead to a teammate making a shot.

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Marcin Gortat may be in the twilight of his career. But he is still very effective in his own way. Through the first round of the playoffs, Gortat is averaging 7.4 screen assists per game, one more per game than Clint Capela, who is second place as of games played through April 26.

In Wednesday’s Game 5 loss, Gortat had 10 screen assists, which are plays when one of his screens leads to a basket by a teammate. Since he scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds last night, he had an advanced and traditional stats triple double.

Screen assists don’t show up in the simple box score. But with the NBA getting more and more stats heavy in recent years, it has started to get tracked in the last two NBA seasons.

On Tuesday, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post asked Gortat and other Wizards teammates about the Polish Machine’s screen assists. Here is what Bradley Beal had to say specifically about Gortat:

“He’s very slick with it. He does a good job of doing it when the ref doesn’t see it, and also, he’s a physical guy,” Beal said. “He takes bumps and bruises. Sometimes I don’t understand how he does it, like, practices every day, lifts every day, plays in all the games. The wear and tear on his body is crazy, I’m sure, but he’s a physical guy. Playing his position, he has to every single night. He does it.”

Gortat was criticized by many after his Game 2 performance after Jonas Valanciunas had a 19 point and 14 rebound performance while Gortat was scoreless. Some also criticized Gortat’s lack of notable physical aggression at opposing centers throughout the years. But it’s not his type of game.

In fact, he told Buckner “I had issues with many coaches telling me, ‘I need you to foul him hard. I need you to literally [mess] him up.’”

It’s a cliché, I know. But you have to evaluate how players contribute to their teams, not just on what you see in the box score, but how they help their teammates thrive. Gortat is still a relatively good scorer in the post, especially when John Wall finds him open like in Game 3.

But the flip side is that Gortat is still the master at making screens that free up Wall, Beal, and others to penetrate the floor for more baskets. So while Gortat’s prime is certainly behind him, he still is far from the point where he is ineffective.