Fresh off being named the Eastern Conference coach of the month, the Wizards’ Scott Brooks joined the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan to discuss his red-hot squad and the player who has surprised him the most during his first season in Washington: Marcin Gortat.

“I just thought he was just a runner and get-to-the-rim-and-finish-around-the basket [type of player], but he understands the game,” said Brooks, who is the Wizards’ first coach of the month since Eddie Jordan in December 2006. “[Gortat] is a better defender than I thought he was, he sets great screens, and you know that, that part of his job is so critical because it really frees up a lot of opportunities for Brad [Beal] and John [Wall], but it also frees up opportunities for those guys to attack, to open up opportunities for [Markieff Morris] and Otto [Porter] in that starting group. Him doing that, and taking pride in it, I think it’s really important for us. He has really surprised me in a nice way. I knew he was good, but I didn’t think he was this good.”

Gortat and the Wizards can extend their home winning streak to 16 games with a win against the Lakers on Thursday, and Brooks credited the energy from the crowds at Verizon Center for some of the Wizards’ recent success.

“When I was coaching [the Oklahoma City Thunder], we had arguably two of the top five or six players in the league at the time, so we drew crowds everywhere we went,” said Brooks, who helmed the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook-led team for five-plus seasons. “So it was great crowds, and obviously Kevin Durant coming back home, there was a buzz there, but at the start of the season, we weren’t playing well, so I don’t think our fans really came out. But lately, now that we’ve played well at home, we’ve had some great games, and a lot of times when we didn’t play well, our crowd really picked us up and gave us an extra push to finish up the game. We’re excited about what’s happening; our fans are excited about seeing us giving everything we have and compete at both ends of the floor. That’s what fans want. They want a workmanlike mentality, and I think that’s what they’re getting now.”

The Wizards still rank 25th in the NBA in attendance (15,626 fans per game), but they went undefeated and averaged 16,639 fans at Verizon Center in seven January home games. Washington was 12-4 overall last month, thanks in part to improvements on the defensive end.

Toward the end of Thursday’s interview, Brooks was asked to provide a signature song to be played before future interviews with the Junkies. (He is scheduled to join the show at 8:40 a.m. every Thursday through the remainder of the season.)

“You know who my favorite artist of all time — and rest in peace, he passed away recently — is Prince,” Brooks said. “I love Prince. Anything Prince. … Every time Otto shoots, I always think of A-U-T-O-matic; that was one of Prince’s songs.”