This is the second part of a multi-part series on some of the biggest questions the Wizards face heading toward the 2020-21 NBA season. If you missed part one, it’s right below.
Today, we will ask, can Davis Bertans & Rui Hachimura share the floor or possibly start together?
This is a major question for the team to answer when deciding between options for this offseason. Both players profile as power forwards: Bertans spent 75 percent of his time there and Hachimura 85 percent, per Cleaning the Glass. General Manager Tommy Sheppard has broached the topic of Hachimura playing on the wing, and Bertans is set to earn a significant pay increase this offseason, likely for three or even four years.
Hachimura and Bertans may not have to start together. But with the emphasis the team has on Hachimura’s development and the money coming Bertans’ way this summer (if he stays a Wizard), it’s important to know if they can play together effectively.
The two together on offense, when combined with Bradley Beal and John Wall, should make an awesome quartet on paper. Bertans opens it up for everyone else with shooting, and then Rui can float between inside, out, and in his favored mid-range area, with a center occupying inside and diving to the rim.
Hachimura’s shortcomings as a shooter on the wing wouldn’t matter nearly as much as they would if he was playing a lot with a 4 (or 5) who doesn’t shoot well. The team wants more versatility and this pairing would allow Rui to play more spots and ultimately play bigger minutes if he’s on the wing.
Now, the defensive side of the ball is the challenge. I believe Bertans is passable (being kind) on the perimeter defending, but he really struggles against size both with one-on-one and rebounding. His wingspan being the same as his height doesn’t help there. He isn’t adept at it but he does alright moving his feet and with contesting on the outside.
I would prefer that Hachimura defends more power forward than Bertans but it’d be matchup dependent. Both of them are going to struggle to cut off penetration on the perimeter but I think Bertans’ length and awareness are more useful outside and Rui does better against players who are bigger than him when compared to Bertans. If they are paired with the right center, it could work. This might be the closing lineup if the season were to start today with Wall.
Hachimura’s and Bertans’ pairing still feels like an unanswered question after this year. I feel better about Bertans playing the 3 and sharing the court with Rui than I do about Rui bumping out and playing more on the wing with a different frontcourt that doesn’t include Bertans. But, the minutes with these two together are important when considering the makeup after this season, and it would allow the front office to focus on other priorities if they can share the court more.
In part three which will come out tomorrow, we will take a closer look at the Wizards’ defense and which players could be part of a stronger unit on that end of the floor moving forward.