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How Marcin Gortat sets table for Wizards' half-court offense with screens

How Marcin Gortat sets table for Wizards' half-court offense with screens

Setting screens is a nuance of basketball that's taken for granted. But if a team doesn't have bigs who can free shooters, by disrupting coverages by opposing defenses, it won't have very good shooters. Marcin Gortat has long be lauded for his screening.

For several seasons, the Oklahoma City justified having Kendrick Perkins, who was a liability defensively against small-ball lineups as shown in the 2012 NBA Finals vs. the Miami Heat, as its starting center under current Wizards coach Scott Brooks. 

Gortat, however, is different. He's more offensively capable than Perkins, more athletic and has 14 double-doubles just 25 games into the season following his 12 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in Friday's 122-108 win over the Detroit Pistons. The John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt combined for 50 points on 18-for-30 shooting and 15 assists. 

Snapshots of the evidence:

"Marcin did a great job. The thing about Marcin and I see it, every team needs good screeners and he's turning into our best screener and I think he's one of the best in the league," Brooks said. "He doesn't get credit but he gets Brad and John a lot of open looks. If it wasn't for his screens we would struggle.”

Wall was complimentary, too. There have been challenges with his big man when it comes to support on pick-and-roll coverages, but the Wizards' half-court is efficient in large part because of Gortat's role. 

"Our bigs did a heck of a job screening for us," Wall said. 

Indeed, they did. Jason Smith and Markieff Morris had a hand in what happened, too.

There's a back-and-forth banter between the team's oldest player at 32 and his two guards in their mid-20s. Sometimes it gets tense when things aren't going well and that's usually regarding communication on the defensive end. Sometimes Gortat fades on shots rather than going strong to the rim. Sometimes he's reluctant to help because he's overly concerned with his man getting lobs. Gortat wants his backcourt to commit more to stopping dribble penetration to help him out. 

The key, however, is having a respect for each other and how each part helps the whole in an 82-game season that's bound to have its ups and down. And the trio seems to be keeping that balance between them better under Brooks' guidance. 

"He's realizing how important he is and he's realizing how many more shots he can get when he screens," said Beal with a laugh. "When he does that, it frees us up as guards and it gives us more space and a better opportunity for everybody else. He does a tremendous job at it. We're tough on him sometimes, but he's a key piece to our team. We know he sets some of the best screens on the team and it gets guys open all the time. We definitely need to give him more credit than we give him. He does an excellent job. We just need him to be a workhorse and be as dominant as he is."


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Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

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Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

The All-Star break came at a good time for Wizards point guard Tim Frazier, who missed their last game before the week off due to nasal fracture surgery.

Frazier was back at the Wizards' practice on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena and expects to play on Thursday when the team returns to action on the road at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I feel good. I feel like I can go out there and help them compete," he said.


Frazier, 27, had surgery to repair his broken nose on Feb. 11 after he was knocked out of the previous night's game between the Wizards and Bulls. Frazier collided face-first with the knee of Bobby Portis and was immediately ushered to the locker room with blood streaming from his nose.

Following the procedure, Frazier had to battle through pain and breathing issues. He feels much better now and had no complications after participating in a full practice.

The challenge now is adjusting to a fitted mask he will have to wear to return to the court. Frazier has never had to wear a mask before in his basketball career.

"[Sweat] was one of the issues today, trying to keep it dry when I'm sweating underneath," he said.

"He looked good," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he would be a little uncomfortable with it, but he seemed fine."


Frazier has been given advice from the Wizards' training staff, as well as teammate Bradley Beal who has had to wear a mask twice before in his career.

"Brad said that after a while you get used to it. Nobody wants to wear it for the rest of their careers besides Rip Hamilton," Frazier said.

Getting Frazier back is significant for the Wizards, who are already down a point guard with John Wall rehabbing from left knee surgery. Without Frazier against the Knicks on Wednesday, the Wizards had to use Beal and Otto Porter to bring the ball up at times. Now, with Tomas Satoransky and Frazier, they have a starting point guard and a backup who is used to playing the position.

They could have three point guards, as the Wizards continue to weigh their options in free agency. They have to add a player within the next two days to meet the league's minimum roster requirement. Most of the free agents they have evaluated have been point guards as they aim to compensate for Wall's absence, which could last well into the month of March.


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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wizards have big questions to answer coming out of All-Star break

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wizards have big questions to answer coming out of All-Star break

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller look ahead to the biggest questions the Wizards need to answer after the All-Star break. They also explain why Bradley Beal proved a lot in his first All-Star Game appearance.

They also unveiled a new segment involving guessing Wizards players based on their social media captions.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!