Quite possibly, Ryan Hollins will go from on the sideline for the first month of the season to being the starter for the Wizards when they play tonight vs. the Phoenix Suns (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
The Wizards will hold shootaround this morning at Verizon Center and coach Randy Wittman generally doesn't reveal his starting lineup until just before tipoff. Hollins was signed earlier this week when a roster spot was opened by the waiving of Martell Webster.
Marcin Gortat won't be around for at least two games while he tends to his mother who is hospitalized in Poland. It could easily be more games than that. He left after Wednesday's 108-104 loss to the L.A. Lakers.
If Hollins is the replacement, the Wizards (7-9) will have to compensate for Gortat's offense. Hollins, who has a career average of 3.7 points, was brought here for rim protection because of Nene's strained left calf. The pick-and-roll sets with John Wall probably won't be as fruitful without Gortat but Hollins can run the floor well in a fast-paced offense.
After an uneven start that drew the ire of coach Randy Wittman, Gortat has been more active and engaged on both ends of the court. His defensive rotations, an area where Hollins struggled at times in his first appearance Wednesday as he was a step slow, have been particularly strong.
In Gortat's last three games, he's had a double-double in each with averages of 16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 61.5% shooting.
If Hollins doesn't get the start, there aren't many other options. Kris Humphries plays a face-up game, not with his back to the basket. Drew Gooden (left calf) hasn't played since Nov. 17 and hasn't had a field goal since Oct. 31 and is more of a three-pointer shooter anyway. DeJuan Blair is in his best shape in a long time only has made six appearances, four of them in blowouts.
Blair was supplanted by Hollins, who only has had one full practice, and didn't get off the bench against the Lakers. Hollins didn't scored but logged 11 minutes.
At least with Phoenix (8-11), which is on a two-game losing streak and has lost six of nine on the road, scoring in the low post isn't its strength. Guard play is, with Brandon Knight or Eric Bledose leading them in scoring in 16 times.
And that's why the Suns have been a matchup problem despite their record. The play of Wall and Bradley Beal, the latter of whom has been out of sync since returning from a left shoulder contusion, will determine much about this outcome.
Where Hollins and the other bigs on the floor come in, unless Wittman opts to go small to combat the speed, is with their ability to support and make the proper rotations.