Marcin Gortat averaged 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for the Washington Wizards during the regular season and 13.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs, including a double-double ( 31 points and 16 boards) in Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers. The Polish Hammer will undoubtedly have many offers for his services as one of the few unrestricted free agent centers this summer, however, the Wizard’s might have the inside track.
“I love the team here,” said Gortat. “We can have something special here for the next three, four, five years. We have a lot of talent on this team, a lot of young guys who can develop and become a superstar in this league.”
If the Wizards are to have something special the next three, four, five years they will need Gortat’s defensive prowess.
Among the players on the team appearing in at least 40 games for the Wizards last season, none contributed more wins because of their defensive play and none were on the court for fewer points allowed per 100 possessions.
Plus, no one on the team comes close to grabbing contested rebounds, or those rebounds when an opponent is within 3.5 feet. Gortat averaged 3.5 of those per game in the regular season and 4.5 in the playoffs. The next best was Trevor Booker (1.9 contested rebounds per game in the regular season) and Trevor Ariza (2.1 in the playoffs), respectively.
Gortat is also an excellent defensive center. Below is his adjusted defensive impact graph during the regular season. Warm colors (red and orange) indicate that offensive players shoot better when Gortat is on the court. Blue colors indicate the opposite and as you can see, there aren’t many spots on the floor where the opposing team has the advantage.
For comparison, here is the reigning defensive player of the year, Chicago’s Joakim Noah.
The stakes are high for Washington: if Gortat agrees to terms with another team in free agency it will be a daunting task to replace his defensive prowess and could put future playoff hopes in jeopardy.