Let it Fly, Davis Bertans

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

In a season that will be mostly forgotten, the emergence of Davis Bertans as the Washington Wizards’ first efficient modern NBA shooter can lead the Wizards into the next decade. 

Davis Bertans shooting nearly 40-footers during a mid-December practice is the most entertaining, exciting, and exhilarating exercise any Washington Wizards player has executed in the previous decade.

The from-the-logo buckets are more than practice bits. Bertans will certainly creep further from his already deep home beyond the arc and unleash these unguardable shots in real games, too. Knocking these long balls down will surmount the practice versions as D.C.’s most tantalizing and impressive basketball feats of memory.

Washington’s best shooter ever?

Several Wizards, such as Summer League legend Devin Robinson, have put the on the floor and driven coast-to-coast for emphatic slams like peak John Wall.

Several Wizards, such as early-2010s agitator Jordan Crawford, have taken over games with patient handles and inside-outside athleticism like Bradley Beal.

No Wizards, however, have stepped onto the court and provided what the fourth-year forward has contributed on the practice floor at MedStar, or, more importantly, the game floor at Capital One Arena.

Bertans isn’t as good as Wall or Beal, but he is nearly as valuable. The modern NBA dictates that teams must employ knockdown three-point shooters if they seek to sustain any semblance of success or competitiveness. Wall, despite his own wishes, has never been a deep threat and Beal, despite the District’s wishes, has never been a consistently reliable force beyond the arc either (Beal is only shooting 33.3% from three this season).

Bertans is the shooter Washington has never had.

The Latvian big man’s run of recent success is well documented, as he sits in the top-10 of most shooting categories, per Basketball-Reference: 3-point field goals (103, 4th), 3-point field goal attempts (223, 9th), 3-point field goal percentage (.462, 8th), true shooting percentage (.672, 9th), and effective field goal percentage (.651, 7th). Bertans also ranks sixth in overall offensive rating (130.3) and ninth in offensive box plus-minus (5.2).

Capturing the title as the Wizards’ best shooter of recent memory isn’t necessarily difficult in itself, but the gulf between Bertans’ marksmanship and other recent District shooters is glaringly wide and uniquely distinct. From Nick Young, Roger Mason, Martell Webster, and Paul Pierce to Trevor Ariza, Otto Porter, Jr., and Beal, Bertans’ 2019-2020 season trumps their best shooting seasons in Washington with impressive superiority:

Per 100 Poss Table
1Dāvis Bertāns2019-20266.213.5.462130
2Otto Porter2017-18772.86.4.441120
3Martell Webster2012-13763.37.8.422115
4Trevor Ariza2013-14773.48.4.407113
5Bradley Beal2016-17774.110.1.404117
6Paul Pierce2014-15733.28.1.389112

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Advanced Table
1Dāvis Bertāns2019-2026.672.7745.2
2Trevor Ariza2013-1477.590.5182.3
3Martell Webster2012-1376.601.5171.6
4Paul Pierce2014-1573.580.4621.7
5Bradley Beal2016-1777.604.4184.5
6Otto Porter2017-1877.602.3542.4

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Whenever Bertans is on the floor, coaches, players, and fans know Bertans is definitely shooting a three and that the shot has a great chance of falling through the net. 77.3 percent of Bertans’ shots this year have been three-pointers, which equates to a staggering 13.5 three-point attempts per 100 possessions. This volume shooting is both effective and wildly entertaining.

Bertans is on pace for nearly 700 three-point field goal attempts. If accomplished, this is over twice as many attempts as Otto ever put up in a single season (high of 342 in 2016-2017). At this rate, Bertans will finish the season with hundreds of more shots in hundreds of fewer minutes.

Let if Fly

Bertans is letting it fly like Washington has never seen before (sorry, Tim Legler).

The numbers are obvious, but Bertans’ ability to keep fans wanting more adds to his unique talent. The following questions regarding Bertans can be overheard in Capital One Arena:

“Why didn’t Bertans shoot?”

“Why isn’t IT passing the ball to Bertans?”

“Why isn’t Bertans in the game?”

“Why isn’t IT passing the ball to Bertans?”

“Why didn’t Bertans pull up?”

“Why isn’t IT passing the ball to Bertans?”

“Otto who?”

“Why isn’t IT passing the ball to Bertans?”

“The Spurs gave him up for Marcus Morris, Sr.? Like, Keef’s brother?”

Next. Impressive play from Davis Bertans is raising inevitable questions. dark

In a season that will be mostly forgotten, Bertans’ emergence as the Wizards’ first efficient modern NBA shooter is a powerful, exciting, and transformational development that can lead the Wizards into the next decade.

Happy New Year, Davis Bertans. May you continue to let it fly in 2020.