On draft night, the Dallas Mavericks traded down two spots in the lottery with the Oklahoma City Thunder to select Dereck Lively II, dumping Davis Bertans’ contract and picking up a trade exception in the process. Dallas then turned around and used that exception to absorb Richaun Holmes’ deal from the Sacramento Kings, acquiring the rights to #24 overall pick Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Those trades are now official, signifying the end of Davis Bertans as a Maverick.
Over the course of a basketball fandom career, there are certain players who you just appreciate watching on a purely aesthetic level. They may not always be positive players who tangibly impact winning on a consistent basis, but something about their game is just so personally pleasing that you can’t help but be satisfied when you watch them. As a person with a special affinity for dead-eye shooters, Davis Bertans is a player like that for me.
Bertans, a Latvian native, came to the NBA from overseas in 2016 and quickly established himself as one of the premier three-point shooters in the league. After four seasons as a productive bench piece with the San Antonio Spurs, he was traded to Washington during the 2019 offseason. Bertans went crazy in his first year for the Wizards and they rewarded him with a five-year, $80 million contract in 2020.
After a solid 2020-2021 season, Bertans’ production fell off a cliff in 2021-2022. He was averaging just 5.7 points per game and shooting a career-worst 31.9% from three when he was traded to Dallas with Spencer Dinwiddie. At the time, his contract was viewed as one of the very worst in the NBA. Taking on Bertans’ deal was the tax the Mavericks had to pay for offloading Kristaps Porzingis and acquiring Dinwiddie.
And his performance really didn’t improve a whole lot during his time in Dallas. Yes, he shot the three better (.378 regular season, .364 playoffs) than his last half-season in Washington, but his numbers were still a far cry from the consistent 40% on high volume that we saw earlier in his career. A pretty serious knee injury cost Bertans the first two months of last year, and staying healthy has been an issue for him throughout his time in the NBA— he hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since 2018-2019.
So, connecting the dots, it looks like nagging injuries throughout the years have compounded upon themselves, reducing the effectiveness of a movement-shooting specialist like Bertans. And to be clear, that is what he is; shooting is the only thing he brings to the table. He can’t create off the dribble at all and he is a horrendous defender and rebounder for a 6’10” forward.
But man, that shooting stroke is so pure. Even though they don’t go in like they used to, watching Davis Bertans shoot the basketball is art. Bertans couples his limitless range with a special kind of irrational confidence. He will shoot as soon as he touches the ball from literally any spot on the court. And watching him do that for Dallas was so fun. There is truly nothing comparable to the experience of a DavBert superheater.
Bertans is fearless and not afraid to talk trash to players who are way better than him. We saw that during the 2022 Western Conference Finals run. We also saw Bertans provide some solid spot minutes during those playoffs. Game Three against Utah comes to mind, when he put up 15 points and made four threes in a crucial Mavericks win. He also scored in double figures twice during the Suns series and contributed toward getting under Phoenix’s collective skin. Bertans, quite simply, has that dawg in him. And Dallas needed a guy like that on the roster.
So while his defense may have been a horror show and his offense a shadow of its former self, I enjoyed rooting for Davis Bertans, Dallas Maverick. I liked watching him shoot the basketball and I was also fond of his comically large head. He was cool and funny and, by all accounts, a great teammate. So pour one out for the Latvian Laser, a “Maverick for life.” I wish him all the best in Oklahoma City and hope that he can get his career back on track.