Marcin Gortat is a fine NBA player. He’s been one of the NBA’s best screeners for about a decade; before a relatively recent age-related decline in athleticism he was an underrated defender and rim protector; he’s a wizard at timing his movement towards the hoop to preserve and maximize the narrow passing lanes that open up during a good pick-and-roll; he’s got sticky hands and quick reflexes; he unveiled previously hidden passing skills as a short-roll operator last season, when teams would blitz and trap Bradley Beal; and he’s been incredibly durable throughout his career.
But he can also be a profoundly irritating guy to watch. He’s a stiff and myopic post technician who prefers finesse moves and fading shots, and has apparently never learned to throw a pump fake in his 34 years of life, and he’s got an infuriating habit of tossing up no-hope turnarounds and one-handed push shots in that ultra-inefficient non-restricted area of the paint, even in desperate must-score situations. For most of his career those bad habits have been the bad you’ll happily take with the good, a reasonable cost of doing business for teammates and coaches in order to have an involved and productive Gortat kicking butt as a pick-and-roll artist—sure, let’s blow a couple early possessions on bad-idea post touches for the Polish Hammer—but it is for sure occasionally infuriating.
Gortat’s persistent failure to fully appreciate his limitations sometimes gets him scolded by his Wizards teammates, but it also once apparently provoked Stan Van Gundy into brutally owning Gortat in a locker room rant, when both men were working for the Orlando Magic, as acted out by Dwight Howard on Thursday’s episode of ESPN’s The Jump (skip ahead to about 6:07 in the video):
“I’ll give y’all a story about Stan. We’re in the locker room—you can ask Marcin Gortat—and he’s going around to everybody, he’s saying, he’s like, ‘scorer, scorer, scorer,’ he looks at Marcin, and he says, ‘well, he thinks he’s a scorer.’ And then Marcin is like, ‘ah, man, ah’—he’s mad. [Van Gundy] is like ‘he’s not a scorer, Marcin.’”
It’s surprisingly fun to watch Dwight Howard deliver this scene in the high-pitched, impressively Stan Van Gundy-like screech he uses in the video. At any rate, whether the message sunk in for Gortat in Orlando, it for sure wore off under Randy Wittman in Washington. Gortat, who’s got one year left on his current contract, is definitely pretty sure he’s a scorer. In fact, the Wizards should hire the presently unemployed Van Gundy as an assistant coach just so he can ambush Gortat in the locker room on opening night with this exact same speech.