Davis Bertans arrived in Dallas as part of the mid-season Kristaps Porzingis trade. By and large, Wizards fans were all-too-happy to see his deflated production and hefty remaining salary out the door. It’s true, Bertans’ time in Washington wasn’t as fruitful as those he spent in San Antonio. Still, he was a player with utility. A 40% three-point shooter doesn’t simply forget how to shoot, and – it’s been said before – if you can shoot the ball, there’s a place for you in the NBA. It’s the main reason Bertans earned himself that big contract in the first place.
He spent much of his time in Washington last year dealing with various foot and ankle injuries that saw his shooting production slip to career-worst by a wide margin. His half-season in Dallas, and playing alongside the league’s best shot creator in Luka Doncic, saw his numbers return to respectability, but there’s certainly hope the dead-eye specialist he was labeled as not long ago can make a resurgence.
How’s his shot look? Not to be reductive, but if Davis Bertans is on the floor, his job is to hit threes. That’s not to say he’s useless elsewhere. He actually had some feisty defensive possessions in Dallas’ 2022 postseason run like his chase-down block on Utah’s Juancho Hernanagomez.
He had some promising stretches in this summer’s Fiba World Cup with the Latvian national team. He shot 42.9% from deep for the tournament, but it came in starts and stops. He had games where he shot 5-of-8 and 5-of-7 sandwiched in between two 2-of-10 and 0-of-3 stinkers. To an extent being able to quickly determine whether or not Bertans is having a hot night is a benefit to head coach Jason Kidd, but in an ideal world, Dallas would be able to depend on him for some more consistent minutes.
Best Case Scenario
There was concern, initially, in Kidd’s first season that there would be a move away from what had made Dallas a successful offensive team and an unnecessary zig while the league was zagging. Namely, reducing the number of three-pointers the team took. That concern proved to be unfounded, as Dallas took essentially the same quantity of threes under Kidd as they had under Carlise, and the team remained in the top-10 in three-point shots attempted. Where the team can improve, and where Bertans can help, is improving the three-point percentage.
While the Mavericks were eighth in attempted threes with 37.4 per game, they were an underwhelming 19th in efficiency, shooting just 35%. Davis, for his part, shot 36% in a Mavs’ uniform; a marked improvement over the paltry 32% he managed in Washington last year. He shot slightly better during the playoffs with a 37.3% mark, and it was a playoff run that demonstrated how potent Dallas can be when they’re hot from behind the line. There are several question marks on the offensive side of the ball entering this season – how is Tim Hardaway Jr going to look in his return? What kind of player does Dallas have in Christian Wood? Can Spencer Dinwiddie elevate his game as a ballhandler? – it would be hugely beneficial if Bertans could be an offensive answer rather than yet another question.
Worst Case Scenario
If for some reason, the magic really is gone and Bertans never becomes more than a league-average three-point shooter, Dallas is going to have a tough pill to swallow when they see the three remaining years on Bertans’ contract. The team doesn’t need Bertans to be a starter, but they need him to be able to contribute 15 to 20 solid minutes off the bench for a second unit that’s going to feature a bunch of offensively-deficient weirdos like JaVale McGee and Frank Ntilikina. So, in a worst-case scenario, Dallas has to grin and bear it for three more years, because they’re not going to have the assets to attach to a player with a contract like Bertans’ to get him off the books.
Is the leading scorer off the bench too optimistic? Because looking at that bench mob, he’s got as good a shot as anyone else of achieving that. And since we’re just asking for things, how about he shoots it at a 40% clip, too?
Dallas can run with the best of them when they’re firing on all cylinders. They showed that last postseason with their shocking dismissal of the Phoenix Sun in a shocking Game 7. Bertans has the confidence, quick release, and defensive willingness to be a contributor on a contending team.