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Kristaps Porzingis, Daniel Gafford center duo has high upside for Wizards

Porzingis-Gafford center duo has high upside for Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Though the Wizards lost to the Clippers on Wednesday night, Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford showed flashes of what should be Washington’s one-two rotation at center for the foreseeable future, not just this season but beyond as both are signed to long-term contracts. The early returns are encouraging, not only in their production as a combo but in the way their skillsets complement each other.

On Wednesday, Porzingis had 19 points in 26 minutes on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. He knocked down 2-of-5 from 3-point range and added a block and a steal. Gafford came off the bench to post a line of 14 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. He shot 7-for-11.

They both made an impact offensively, but got their points in different ways.

“I think it’s a different feel,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “K.P.’s able to stretch the defense and Gaff obviously puts a lot of pressure on the rim as a roller. Both have good length and size up front. But just the ability to mix and match, kind of give offenses and our offense a different feel, the defense a different look.”

Porzingis had a similar assessment.

“Both of us are lob threats, but he’s obviously a much bigger lob threat. I can stretch the floor more,” Porzingis explained. “With him, whenever he’s rolling to the basket it just draws so much attention because of that and guys get open looks just because of him. That’s something not everybody sees, but he’s very valuable in that sense.”

Having two centers who can score in different ways is only part of why the Wizards have an emerging strength at center. Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact both can protect the rim. The Wizards now have two shot-blockers, which means they don’t have to work around a liability in the paint.

It’s a fairly rare combination. There are 12 players in the NBA this season averaging at least 1.5 blocks per game and Porzingis and Gafford are one of only two pairs of teammates in that category, the other being Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.

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2022-03-10

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