What should the Washington Wizards do with Davis Bertans?

Washington Wizards Davis Bertans (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Davis Bertans (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

A hot shooting streak brings about inevitable questions. What should the Washington Wizards do with Davis Bertans?

When the Washington Wizards traded for Davis Bertans, they knew they were getting something good. It’s hard to imagine they knew they were getting someone this good from the San Antonio Spurs. Through 22 games, he’s been one of the Wizards’ top contributors.

This season, Bertans is averaging 14.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, both are career-highs. Already known as a marksman before coming to Washington, Bertans’ three-point shooting has been off the charts in his new home. He’s already drained 84 long balls this season, and he’s shooting 45 percent from behind the three-point line.

With Washington at just 7-15 and the NBA’s trade market getting ready to heat up, it’s time to consider what the future holds for Bertans.

Here’s a look at just how good he’s been and the fork in the road he’s presented Washington.

A True Sixth Man

6Six months ago, if someone were to come up to you and tell you that the Washington Wizards would have a top-3 NBA offense in John Wall’s absence — you likely would have laughed or scoffed at the idea.

But it’s true. Without a legitimate starting-caliber point guard to facilitate, this Washington team has bought into the extra pass mentality. The Wizards are currently tied with the Phoenix Suns as the best assisting team in the NBA, averaging 28.3 per game. However, they don’t have a single player that ranks in the top ten for assists per game.

A lot of that scoring comes from Bertans and his quick trigger threes. Only James Harden, Devonte Graham, and Buddy Hield have made more this season.

Of the four, Bertans ranks last in minutes played by a wide margin.

  • James Harden: 868 minutes
  • Devonte Graham: 841 minutes
  • Buddy Hield: 788 minutes
  • Davis Bertans: 635 minutes

Even though Bertans has played the fewest games, fewest minutes, and has had the fewest attempts of the four, he’s posting the highest three-point and effective field goal percentages, per Basketball-Reference.

His play has been the most pleasant surprise for a Wizards team that’s faced mostly grim news. But on the same front, it’s creating a problem for the Wizards.

To Trade or Not to Trade?

December 15 is fast approaching, and that means that all players who signed new deals or switched teams back in July will soon be available for trades.

Given what Bertans has been doing this season, the Wizards are bound to receive some phone calls from contenders that need shooting. Should the Wizards cash in on Bertans in a year with remotely low expectations? Or do they try and hold on to him for when John Wall returns?

The market could force teams in desperate need of shooting to offer up a first-round pick for Bertans. Teams like Portland, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, and Boston all come to mind; playoff teams with first-round picks to offer. But would that be enough for an elite shooter? Especially with the first-rounder likely being outside the lottery if it’s coming from a contender?

The Wizards will have to decide if Bertans, whose contract is up at the end of the season, will be too expensive for them to keep around.

Despite him being on an expiring contract, teams that want Bertans for the long haul might try a midseason trade, anyway. When Bertans came to Washington from San Antonio, his Bird Rights came, too. If a team trades for him, they will get his Bird Rights from Washington, giving them a leg up in free agency.

Bird Rights allow teams to go over the salary cap (without penalty) to re-sign their own free-agents. Given Bertans’ current play, he’ll probably be an expensive free agent in a barren market this summer. But the Wizards might be able to afford it, anyway, if they can offer him more money without penalty.

For teams looking to build and/or maintain a championship roster, Bertans is an attractive asset. Maybe one of the most attractive assets out there right now. However, it would be asinine for the Wizards to give away their second-leading scorer amid an injury-riddled season. Just as asinine as keeping him amidst the inevitable and appealing trade offers that come knocking, though?

The decision to trade (or not trade) Davis Bertans will come down to one very not simple question. Is there still hope that this team can compete once Wall returns.

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The Wizards organization seems to think so. If Bertans is still here when Wall comes back, he would be (by far) the best shooter Wall has ever played with. If they want to make life easy for Wall upon his return, they’d be smart to keep the Latvian Laser around.

Davis Bertans’ recent play has put the Wizards front office in an unlikely, yet welcome predicament. One way or another, he will influence the path forward for the Wizards.