This past summer, the San Antonio Spurs got a verbal agreement from then-free agent Marcus Morris, prompting them to create room by shipping Davis Bertans to the nation’s capital in a three-team deal that sent Aaron White (remember him?) to the Brooklyn Nets and DeMarre Carroll to San Antonio.
Months later, it looks like Tommy Sheppard swindled the Spurs.
Last Thursday’s 119-113 win against the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t have happened without a ridiculous performance from Bertans — just one of the many he’s had this season.
Bertans, who’s making over 45 percent of his threes, scored 25 points off the bench, including seven made 3-point shots.
The Latvian Laser could always shoot the ball — that was a given, and it’s why Sheppard was thrilled to snag him out of San Antonio’s hands.
But the way he’s shooting it — the efficiency with which he’s making these shots — was something nobody anticipated.
Right now, Bertans is taking about 10 shots per game. Eight of those attempts have come beyond the three-point arc. What that means is — virtually every time he’s taking a shot, it’s been a shot from deep. His opponents, of course, know that, too — yet he’s been unstoppable.
Why? Because he’s 6-foot-10 and has an immense amount of confidence — two things you cannot teach a young player. With his height, it’s practically impossible to alter his shot by merely getting a hand up. And with his confidence, he only needs a split second to get his shot off. Whether he airballs a shot or hits nothing but net, Bertans’ next attempt will look the same: taken with confidence, and expected to go in.
That’s why the Wizards — after a decade of looking for a stretch four — need to keep him around.
We live in a world where the Washington Wizards got the better end of a deal involving the San Antonio Spurs. Take that in. The two teams have been polar opposites since they came into existence. On one hand, you have the Wizards — a team that’s been a perpetual disappointment (which is nicely put). On the other, you have the Spurs — a model franchise for every team in any sport.
Because of Bertans’ hot performances and the Wizards’ sub-.500 record, he will certainly be linked to trade rumors until the deadline in February.
But why should the Wizards effectively undo this trade? Whom can they realistically get in exchange for one of the best shooters on the planet? An unproven young player or a draft pick, with hopes of one day turning it into production?
Think of the Al Harrington days — a broken-down veteran called upon to save the Wizards as a stretch big. Think of the Kris Humphries days — a bruising forward asked to develop an outside shot over-night.
Then think of Bertans — an unconscious shooter who does nothing but drill threes, ranking higher in percentage than hired assassins like Paul George and Devin Booker.
John Wall is itching to get back on the court — and soon, he can whip the same passes into the palms of Bertans that were once caught by aging veterans, entirely too dependent on Wall to succeed. Bertans is one of the most active players on the roster — he never stops moving, looking to get open. He cuts when he sees a hole in the defense. He’ll set the big up on a pick-and-roll pass, too.
It’s rare to find a player like Bertans, especially without giving up something worthwhile. He’s managed to break out with the ultimate green light, proving himself to be among the best shooters on the planet.
Now just imagine what he’ll look like with Wall on the floor — an All-Star caliber player, who, even if he doesn’t return to elite form post-achilles tear, will certainly be a better option than Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith.