With just one day left until the Mavs make their pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, it's time to take a look at another prospect they are likely to consider. If you read my first post, you will find an overview of the Mavs' likely roster for 2011-12 and what positions are most likely to be addressed in the draft. I won't repeat all the nitty gritty details here, but I'll reiterate what I believe to be the three types of players the Mavs will be looking to draft:
1. A role-playing PF who can contribute immediately as a 12-minute backup to Dirk
2. A developmental SF who will fight for backup minutes over the next couple of years and hopefully earn a starting spot in 2013-14
3. Anyone who can be stashed overseas and develop without taking up a roster spot
So let's take a look at today's target, Latvian forward Davis Bertans.
Along with Richmond's Justin Harper, Davis Bertans is the most common choice for draft mockers to go to Dallas at #26. Standing at 6'10" and a mere 210 pounds and blessed with an excellent shot, Bertans is a work in progress who will likely develop into a capable role player at the NBA level, though he will likely remain overseas for at least two more years.
With such a lanky build, it is probably not surprising that Bertans prefers to roam the perimeter rather than attack the paint. Fortunately, Bertans has a well-honed shot that has led potentially insane scouts to compare him to a young Dirk Nowitzki (this is crazy, but a compliment nonetheless). His preferred shot comes from behind the arc, where he has a fairly quick trigger and a high release that takes advantage of his 6'10" reach. He clearly has no hesitation about shooting often, and looks like he will have no trouble shooting beyond the NBA line when he arrives. While his 3-pointer will undoubtedly be his featured asset in the NBA, he does exhibit other somewhat promising offensive qualities. He is a capable ballhandler with reasonable athleticism, though his ability to finish at the rim is hampered by his weight. He is also able to create shots off the dribble, but the lack of a threat to drive allows defenders to play much closer to him, sometimes forcing him into quick jumpers. If Bertans is able to bulk up and learn to score a bit in the paint (and free up his shot a bit more), I could see him becoming a very potent offensive option off the bench.
As one would imagine, defense is not a strong suit for Bertans. His extremely thin frame prevents him from even dreaming of defending the post in the NBA, and his foot speed isn't likely to hold up too well against quicker small forwards. His rebounding is subpar, even in Europe, and will likely be below average in the NBA as well. Because he grew 8 inches over the last two years, it is not surprising that his frame lacks bulk. If he is able to gain significant weight, he will almost certainly hold up better in the lane and on the boards. However, I imagine that defense will always be somewhat of a liability for him.
At age 18, Bertans clearly has some work to do before he arrives in the NBA. He currently plays for Union Olimpija, a well-respected Slovenian team, where he receives significant minutes against much more experienced competition. This year he will also be playing for Latvia's U-19 team in the world championships as well, so the level of competition will be quite appropriate for a future NBA player.
Overall, Bertans is an intriguing prospect for the Mavs. He certainly fits in with the limited roster space, in that he can spend the next two seasons or so overseas, where he can work on his skills and physique without occupying space on the 15-man roster. His potential seems limited to being a role player, though he could easily develop into a serious contributor off the bench if he continues to progress in Europe. With questions about how much bulk he can gain and what other facets of his game (other than the 3 pointer) he can develop, Bertans will no doubt be an intriguing choice for whoever picks him.
For a decent look at Bertans in action check this out.