Marcin Gortat is the best in the NBA when setting screens that lead to baskets
The scouting report on Marcin Gortat would normally contain snippets about his strong inside presence on both ends of the floor, soft touch around the basket, and good court sense, among others.
But an underrated part of his game has allowed the Washington Wizards to be this successful. Thanks to the modern times’ so-called advanced statistics, Gortat’s contributions to the team’s cause are now magnified through a rarely mentioned category.
In Jeff Zillgitt’s recent article for USA TODAY Sports, he reveals that the man known as the ‘Polish Hammer’ is also the best in the NBA when it comes to setting screens for his teammates.
“The NBA tracks ‘screen assists,’ which is a screen that directly leads to a made field goal, and Gortat led all players during the regular season with 6.2 screen assists per game and leads all players in the playoffs with 9.8 screen assists per game, according to NBA.com/stats.”
Gortat’s solid foundation and strong body gives more space to the Wizards’ formidable backcourt duo — John Wall and Bradley Beal. And with the talent level of these two, every inch is a huge opportunity to make that next big play.
“I became a better screener by watching guys like Kendrick Perkins, Dennis Rodman,” Gortat said. “I spoke with a lot of coaches who taught me how to set screens. It’s just not about me setting a good screen, but the guy who handles the ball has to score to make me look good. A lot of people make me look good, too.”
Setting good screens is an art. It requires the discipline to make sure one’s body is strong enough to unleash, and receive, punishment. But it’s not all brawn as the perfect pick cannot be possible without good basketball IQ. Timing and familiarity with the ball handler is also essential.
“You have to have the toughness,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “You have to sacrifice your body and handle that play after play after play. You put yourself in a position where you’re vulnerable and you have to protect yourself.”
In an era where the pick-and-roll and player movement have become major weapons among teams, Marcin Gortat silently stands head and shoulders above all big men.