Gafford career-high 8 blocks a special performance


For as impressive as Daniel Gafford has been protecting the rim for the Wizards since they acquired him just eight months ago, he had never had a game quite like the one he produced on Friday night. In the Wizards' win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Gafford blocked a career-high eight shots to go along with seven points, eight rebounds and a steal.

Eight blocks. That topped his previous career-high of six, set during his time with the Chicago Bulls. It was also the most blocks by a Wizards player since JaVale McGee once had 12 in 2011.

Others to accomplish the feat in franchise history include Gheorghe Muresan, Manute Bol and Elvin Hayes. Bol did it a preposterous 27 times in his career.

The Wizards needed all eight of Gafford's blocks to beat the Thunder on Friday. It was a game of runs that saw OKC nearly pull off a stunning win as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander just barely missed a buzzer-beating three at the end. The Wizards won by two points and who knows how many Gafford saved all by himself.

"Gaff was tremendous tonight. I'm still shocked at eight blocks," Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. "He had eight blocks. Some of them were so impressive."

There was plenty of talk from the Wizards during their postgame press conferences about how Gafford bailed them out. Bradley Beal was thankful, but said he "shouldn't have to do that every time." Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. basically agreed, that's it's a good thing he did.


"You know when mistakes happen on the floor, you've got a guy behind you who can cover some of those up," he said.

Gafford had four blocks in each half despite never having that many in a single half previously in his career. He had at least a block in all four quarters, including three in the first and three more in the third.

Gafford wasn't just feeling in a blocking mood, he said. He believes it was a result of him being more consistently focused and being in the right spots, something he is always working on.

Unseld Jr. said he had a long conversation with Gafford the day before about playing with "more purpose and energy." Gafford believes he needs to do so earlier in games as he continues to adjust to being a full-time starter after spending much of the first two years of his career coming off the bench.

"I'm like an old, I would say, Pontiac or Camaro or something. You've gotta let them warm up before you take them on the road," Gafford joked.

With his eight-block performance against the Thunder, Gafford is now averaging 2.1 blocks per game on the season. That's fourth-best in the NBA behind only Myles Turner, Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. 

Gafford is putting his name in the conversation with the best shot-blockers in the NBA and the Wizards are fortunate to have him, even if they have to wait a little while for his engine to rev up.