Lack of Minutes for Marcin Gortat Concerning


Last season, Marcin Gortat provided something that the Washington Wizards had not had in quite some time: a talented center that could hold his own down low.

After being traded from Phoenix just days before the start of the regular season, Gortat averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season. In the playoffs, his numbers were consistent with how he played in the regular season: 13 points, 9.9 boards and 1.3 blocks per game.

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This led Washington to sign the Polish Machine to a 5-year, $60 million contract. That made Gortat the third-highest paid player on the Wizards over the next two seasons behind John Wall and Nene, with his salary increasing each year through the end of the deal.

So far this season, Gortat’s numbers are relatively the same as last year – 13 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game – but he has steadily seen his minutes decrease.

Last season, Gortat was regularly playing over 30 minutes per game and he logged a career-high in minutes with 32.8 per game.

This season, the Polish Machine is playing in just under 30 minutes per game and has only played more than 30 minutes twice this month. Over the last three games in particular, Gortat has played 28, 22 and 20 minutes. In last night’s loss to Phoenix, Gortat did not get any playing time in both the second and fourth quarters, yet still scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots.

Head coach Randy Wittman instead turned to backup Kevin Seraphin, who logged a season-high 28 minutes last night and finished with 16 points and five rebounds.

Dec 21, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) shoots a lay up past Washington Wizards center Kevin Seraphin (13) during the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. Phoenix Suns defeated Washington Wizards 104-92. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Seraphin’s numbers have been sporadic this season, as Wittman has opted to barely use him in some games but then will lean on him heavily in others, like last night.

Over the past several games – with the exception of the win in Miami – Seraphin has seen a steady amount of minutes while Gortat is playing less than someone on a $60 million contract. One reason is Seraphin’s defensive presence.

Although he’s an inch shorter than Gortat, Seraphin weighs almost 40 more pounds than him at 278, according to ESPN. His large frame creates a nuisance for opposing players down low, whereas Gortat may be forced off the block more easily.

And while it’s good that Randy Wittman can turn to his bench for extended minutes, he needs to allow his top players to play those minutes in big games.

The Wizards had a good chance at beating one of the better teams in the West last night, and although Seraphin was effective, Gortat should have been in the game when it mattered over his counterpart, Nene.

Nene saw a significant amount of minutes in the fourth quarter last night, yet only finished with two points and five rebounds on 1-of-8 shooting.

It was clear all game he was struggling, yet Wittman kept him in.

Wittman may surely just be monitoring his players’ minutes while we are still in the first half of the season, but when a player is given a significant amount of cash, you need to play him a significant amount of minutes.