During the second half of Tuesday night’s game between the Wizards and the Hornets, you could almost feel panic from Charlotte players every time they go from offense to defense.
Where is? Has half the court still gone? Put a body on it NOW.
No, it was not a two-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who is fifth in the league with a score of 27.4 points per game, sending the Hornets into a frenzy. It was the fourth year ahead of Davis Bertans, who had not averaged more than six goals per game before this season.
Bertans nearly burned the nets at Spectrum Center, scoring 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and 8-on-12 shooting from the 3-point line (plus two 4-point games). After Bertans’ sixth bomb from deep, which came two steps off the line with Nicolas Batum right on his grill, Beal had to rejuvenate on the opposite baseline.
When Beal thought about the best shooters he had played together, Bertans jumped to the top of the list.
“Let’s see, probably 1, honestly,” Beal said after the game. “I think Trev (Ariza) was having a great year. Martell (Webster) was having a good time one year, but in terms of the way he shoots, he’s sure.”
This is because Bertans’ outburst in Charlotte was not sensitive at all. Through 20 games, the Latvian laser kills an ugly 46.5% to 8.6 3 points per game. These aren’t just your standard looks with a miserable big man who loses Bertans at the perimeter (though he is the top scorer in the league). It comes from screens and shoots at the touch of an eye.
Of his 198 attempts on 3 points this season, Bertans took 175 fewer than two seconds after contacting the ball, according to NBA.com tracking data.
“Going by the screens, that’s what I really like to do, and I feel this is the best part of my game,” Bertans said. “They’ve used me that way here, and the kids have been looking for me, making shots helps. The more you do, the more they will (will be) for you.”
And he has done many of these. Bertans is fourth in the NBA with 3 points (92) behind James Harden (117), Devonte Graham (103) and Buddy Hield (94) despite playing much less minutes on the bench than the guards. Bertans will never be confused about Harden any time soon, but opponents know exactly how to end possession if he finds a piece of space.
This gravity can open the floor for his teammates.
What sets Bertans apart from other stretch-4s – and indeed most shooters, period – is his ability to catch on the go, maintain his balance and rotate his body to the basket in a fluid motion.
“The big big shooters, the wings, have the advantage. It looks like it’s a square middle,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Reggie Millers, Ray Allens, Mark Price – these great shooters just have the ability to not be a factor. Their legs, their mechanics, the angle of entry into the arc are always at the same level.
“He’s one of the best, definitely one of the best shooters.”
Berdan believes he has always had this rare ability at some level, but he has moved on to playing in Serbia with Belgrade’s Partizan coach Dule Vukosevic. A hand on the face is nothing compared to what Bertans faced abroad.
“A wonderful but crazy coach in Serbia did some ridiculous exercises,” Berdas said. “Some other coaches who own some brooms give me gardening gloves to wear when I turn around, putting a pillow in one eye – things like that, I’ve seen them all. Sometimes when the defenses play a lot closer, it’s just another day that I’ve been through before. “
This sudden appearance helped make Washington’s top five, but with the Wizards out of the playoffs at 7-16 overall, it raises some interesting questions about Bertans’ future.
When the Magicians acquired Bertans in a deal with the Spurs this past offseason, they knew they had added a good player, but they could not expect such a performance. (Gregg Popovich probably continues to fight for the deal that led to Marcus Morris’s downsizing in 2019.) Bertans is currently in a bargain deal, earning just $ 7 million this season, but will enter the free agency in 2020. Any team in the league could use a 6-10 front that can shoot the lights out, so there will be competition for their services.
At 27, Bertans fits in well with Beal’s schedule (26) and is exactly the kind of player Washington should want next to Beal and John Wall every time he returns from injury. Sure, but Bertans is also smart off the ball, doesn’t swallow too many possessions and plays a decent defensive position despite his athletic limitations. Its impact is felt whenever he speaks.
“I keep saying it, it’s not just a shooter,” Brooks said. “He’s a basketball player, an elite basketball player.”
However, the Magicians could take an alternative route and measure Bertans’ value in the commercial market, especially if the team continues to slip into the rankings before February 6th. Bertans is the type of player who could potentially steal a playoff with a hot quarterback so candidates would have no problem matching the $ 7 million mark in a trade and Washington could acquire a valuable asset. item instead of losing Bertans to a team eager to pay for the summer.
How operators handle the next two months will be the key. Despite the appearance of Bertans, the Wizards still lost to the Hornets and are likely to continue to lose if they retain the dubious title of the league’s worst defense.
“It’s great to be able to do that, but if we want to win and be in the playoffs and be that type of caliber team, we can’t just depend on DB to make those shots,” he said. Beal. “But it’s great that it does.”
Regardless of where Bertans does it until the end of the season, you can bet that the opposing players will be at high alert.