“You’ve got to lock him in the weight room for a good four months,” Gortat said of the 6-foot-8, 205-pound Porter. “He’s got to gain at least 10, 15 pounds. And I think he’s going to be at least twice better player.”
At 34, Gortat is the elder in the Wizards’ locker room, but he has not missed a game since April 13, 2016, that year’s regular season finale in which the team started a cast of bench players. His durability — Coach Scott Brooks marveled that Gortat hasn’t missed a practice or even a shoot-around in two seasons — can be credited to an affinity for the weight room.
Porter, a small forward, has crafted his game as a player who runs the floor. With his sinewy frame, Porter cuts within the offense to find openings — that is, when he’s healthy. On Wednesday night in Game 5, it became obvious that something was wrong with Porter as he consistently grimaced and remained static in the sets.
When asked to share any veteran advice for Porter, Gortat praised his game but strongly suggested building up his body.
“Skill set-wise, he’s unbelievable. He’s got everything. He can rebound. He can shoot the ball. He can post up. He can pass. He can definitely defend, if he’s healthy,” Gortat said. “As I told him and I told Kelly [Oubre Jr.], they’ve both got to improve in the weight room. They’ve got to get into the weight room.”
Gortat will spend his summer doing just that — and not in the gym hoisting three-pointers.
At the start of the season, Gortat showed up with a mohawk and offered memorable quotes on his refusal to develop a three-point shot. At the season’s conclusion, Gortat was sporting a bald look. Although he has changed his physical appearance, Gortat remains steadfast in not assimilating his traditional game to the new ways of the NBA.
“This summer, I’m going to work on my tan. I’m going to work on my six-pack. Get my bicep definition a bit better. You can’t improve three-point shooting. You can’t improve your shot, specifically for me,” Gortat responded when asked whether he would consider adding at least a corner three-point shot to his game.
After another season in which space and shooting has defined offenses leaguewide, Gortat is resolute: The Polish Hammer will remain old school.
“I truly believe I’m a solid, good shooter up to 15, 17 feet. But I’m not going to shoot threes,” he said. “No, I’m not going to do that. I want to go into the paint. Body people. Be physical. Get scratches. Bleed. That’s how I made a living for 11 years, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to pop on the three-point line and shoot threes. I’m not going to do that. I’ve got one more year left. I’m going to try to play as best as I can.
“Bottom line is, I see what people say. I read what people write. And it’s impossible that I came back, four months after last year, all of a sudden I’m an ‘old man.’ I have a lot left in my tank. I know what I can bring to the table. Physically, trust me, I’m better than a lot of 20-year-old people in this league. I have a lot left in my tank. I have one more year [on my] contract here, and I want to come back to be the guy that I was last year. And I’m hoping that I get this opportunity.”
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