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What should the Wizards do with Davis Bertans?

The forward is in the middle of a high paying contract, but his shot is off and his defense isn’t on par.

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards
Davis Bertans has had a slow start for the Washington Wizards this season.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans’ shooting performances over his last five games can be summarized as follows:

  • 0-from-5 from the field in 15 minutes
  • 0-from-3 from the field in 15 minutes
  • 1-from-10 from the field in 19 minutes
  • 0-from-0 from the field in 3 minutes
  • 2-from-10 from the field in 21 minutes.

Bertans is shooting 3-for-25 from deep in this stretch, exactly 12 percent from deep. For the season, his offensive rating is at 95 (team at 106.8), while his defensive rating is at 111 (team at 106.1). His BPM score is at team low -6.5 with only B&RC favorites Aaron Holiday (-4.3) and Raul Neto (-5.0) making a run for his money. Here is the data for the rest of the Wizards. (The data was pulled before the Wizards win at Dallas: after that game Bertans slid to -7.7 while Holiday and Neto slightly improved to -4.2 and -4.3.)

And, so, naturally, we have to raise the question: what should the Wizards do with Davis Bertans?

Sure, there is no need to enter panic mode, as any 5-game stretch is way-too-little of a sample size. For instance, the 5 games that preceded those were better: 38 percent from deep and 39% from the field in 15 minutes per game.

Yet, in the eye-test, it seems that Bertans simply does not fit Wes Unseld Jr.’s template for the Wizards.

Bertans was inked into his, in retrospect, extremely generous and lengthy contract in large part due to organization-wide realization that cap space will be non-existent until 2023 as the Wizards would have to sit pat and wait out John Wall’s gigantic super-max. Yes, on November 20, 2020, Wall was still on the team for the foreseeable future. It was only about 2 weeks later, in early December of last year that the Bradley Beal—Wall backcourt duo was dismantled.

Subsequently, in the 2020-2021 season, Bertans fit to the Bradley Beal—Russell Westbrook backcourt already seemed less effective than it was envisioned in the original plan. Don’t ask me why, but maybe it is a compliment to Wall that he has a better shot selection than Westbrook.

Now, a quarter of a season into the 2021-22 campaign and it is becoming more and more evident that Bertans does not quite fit in Wes Unseld, Jr.’s defense-first schemes.

It could also be a confidence issue: the Wizards now have a rotation that, in stark contrast to previous years, features an abundance of choices in the front-court. The Wizards can do just fine with little contribution from Bertans, and perhaps Bertans is having a hard time adapting to his more nominal role.

Be it as it may, at this point it seems that the Wizards will have to either find a way to increase Bertans’ confidence, and hence market (and team) value, or else trade him at a much lower value than he was signed for.