Marcin Gortat’s trade to the Washington Wizards from the Phoenix Suns received very mixed reactions amongst fans. While the Wizards gave up a hefty load to get him (protected 1st round pick along with Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract), Gortat has been a pleasant surprise for a team that desperately needed frontcourt help. After having a down season last year without Steve Nash delivering the ball, Gortat’s numbers are now closer to his career year.
Gortat’s offense has been a revelation for the Wizards, as his pick-and-roll game as opened up the floor and has furthered the development of John Wall. His brilliance in that area showed up on this particular play from last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, where he scored a season high 25 points on 11-12 shooting.
Here, we see Gortat and John Wall run a pick and roll at the top of the key. Zaza Pachulia decided to do a soft hedge out on the perimeter to deny penetration from Wall.
As a result, Khris Middleton drifted off Martell Webster, who was spotting up in the right corner, to help impede the progress of Gortat as a roll man, along with Pachulia and Ilyasova (not shown above).
Wall decided to throw a crosscourt pass to Webster, who was seemingly wide open. Middleton, however, closed out beautifully on Webster, which Gortat noticed immediately.
Gortat sets a pick on Middleton, initiating a side PnR with Webster.
Gortat slipped between both Pachulia and Middleton. Webster delivered a pinpoint pass and Gortat finished beautifully with the left hand over Ilyasova.
This play demonstrates Gortat’s exceptional ability in the pick and roll, and shows its effectiveness in two ways. First, it forces defenders to play off the corner shooters to impede Gortat’s rolls to the rim, because they know how effective he is at this. As a result, John Wall shows his exceptional ability of launching skip passes to open shooters. The second way this play shows the effectiveness of Gortat’s pick and roll ability is how it gets the defenders out of position, allowing him to set yet another pick when the defender closes out the shooter, and eventually find his way to the rim, finishing with great touch. This pick and roll capability is what really helps the Wizards reach their full offensive potential, and they need to utilize more if they want to become a juggernaut on that end.