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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

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USA Today Sports

Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 33

2016-17 stats: 82 G, 31.2 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 1.5 apg, 10.4 rpg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 57.9 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 64.8 FT%, 57.9 eFG%, 117 ORtg, 108 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Following the 2016-17 season, Gortat expressed doubt about whether he would be back with the Wizards, knowing he is entering his mid-30s and given the presence of Ian Mahinmi, another capable veteran center. But Gortat wasn't traded and was never close to being dealt. Now he is days away from entering his fifth season with the Wizards, still serving a key role in their starting lineup.

That role is centered around screens and rebounding, two things he did very well this past year. His 10.4 rebounds per game were a career-high and the most for a Wizards player since Brendan Haywood in 2009-10. Gortat posted just the third double-digit rebounding season for a Washington player in the last 20 years. He had 6.2 screen assists per game this past season, tied with Rudy Gobert for the most in the NBA. 

[RELATED: HOW THE NBA CAN PREVENT TANKING]

It's a specific role and Gortat is excellent at it. But like any player, his role can expand. For Gortat, that could be as simple as receiving more looks on offense. There were times last season where the Wizards targeted him early for post-up opportunities, to get him in rhythm. On defense, it could be a matter of him just finding more chemistry with Markieff Morris. Or, finding a way to play with Mahinmi on the court at the same time. Defensive rating doesn't tell the whole story, but Gortat's 108 DRtg this past season was far from the 100 and 103 he put up in his first two years with the Wizards. 

It should be noted that a healthy Mahinmi will affect Gortat directly. If Mahinmi can stay on the court this season, he will take a good chunk of minutes in the frontcourt and Gortat will have to adjust. Putting up the same rebounding numbers may not be easy, but his abilities to set screens is highly valued by coach Scott Brooks.

Potential to improve: Consistency on offense, free throw shooting, defense.

MORE WIZARDS' ROSTER PREVIEWS:

Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

[RELATED: WHO WILL BE MOST-IMPROVED ON THE WIZARDS THIS YEAR?]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES

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Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 33 - Sneaker special... it's all about the kicks

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CSN

Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 33 - Sneaker special... it's all about the kicks

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast, we focused entirely on sneakers and how they intersect with the culture of basketball. Chase Hughes and Chris Miller were joined by CSN producers (and sneakerheads) Ajay Atayee and Terrence Stroder in studio.

The four of them brought on two expert guests on the phone. First was Cool Kicks sneaker store owner Daniel Habtemariam. Second was Michael Sykes, a blogger at SB Nation.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

[RELATED: Keef and Dolph: an odd couple friendship within the Wizards' organization]

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Jason Smith's improvement as a shooter should help Wizards bench

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USA Today Sports

Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Jason Smith's improvement as a shooter should help Wizards bench

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Jason Smith's season...

Player: Jason Smith

Position: Power forward/center

Age: 31

2016-17 stats: 74 G, 14.4 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 0.3 apg, 3.5 rpg, 0.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 52.9 FG%, 47.4 3P%, 68.6 FT%, 58.5 eFG%, 110 ORtg, 108 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Smith's first season in Washington didn't get off to a great start, much like the team as a whole. He was among several players struggling on the Wizards' bench early on, shooting just 36.7 percent from the field in 11.8 minutes a night through 16 games. Smith ultimately found his niche despite inconsistent minutes as a key player on the bench with Ian Mahinmi out most of the year due to injury.

Smith made his impact as an energy guy off the bench. At his best, he disrupted shots in the lane and spread the floor with an improving three-point shot. Smith hit two threes in October, November and December. From January on, Smith made 35 of them at a 46.7 percent clip. By March he was knocking down multiple threes per night on a regular basis.

[RELATED: HOW THE NBA CAN PREVENT TANKING]

Smith's emergence as a three-point threat was unexpected, as it happened in his Age 30 season. But it wasn't just luck and it didn't happen overnight. For years Smith practice threes and he had already developed into a solid midrange shooter. It was last year that his range extended beyond the three-point line.

Whether the Wizards can count on Smith to hit threes at a high rate this season is unclear, but that versatility is what could help him remain in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation. If Mahinmi can stay healthy, that will likely mean less minutes for Smith. But if Smith can spread the floor, he can be a nice complement to Mahinmi or Marcin Gortat as a stretch-4.

For as much continuity as there will be in the Wizards' starting lineup, their bench has many new faces. That group also includes Mahinmi, who played only 31 games last year. Smith have a full season in Brooks' system will help him hit the ground running this season in a second unit that will require an adjustment period.

Potential to improve: Chemistry with other bigs, free throw shooting, rim protection.

MORE WIZARDS' ROSTER PREVIEWS:

Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

Can Ian Mahinmi make a bigger impact in his second season?

Will Tim Frazier be the solution at backup point guard?

Jodie Meeks could make big impact off bench

Mike Scott can add toughness to Wizards' bench

[RELATED: WHO WILL BE MOST-IMPROVED ON THE WIZARDS THIS YEAR?]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES