Three-point shooting is all the rage in the 2020-21 NBA season. Teams are shooting more threes than ever before, although that continues to be the case incrementally season-to-season. The Washington Wizards are no exception in following suit with three-point worship. As such, they re-signed the sharpshooting Davis Bertans to a five-year $80 million fully guaranteed contract prior to the start of the season.
Bertans presented the Wizards with an unorthodox kind of negotiation. In a league of long-range priorities, Bertans was able to stand out among high-volume shooters during the 2019-2020 season. His bee-like activity off the ball and 30-foot range were pivotal to the team’s success on a nightly basis. Still, his shooting fluctuates hot and cold night-by-night. Additionally, his defense leaves something to be desired. For these reasons, Bertans is a luxury for Washington. Plenty of teams could use a player of his gravity, so the Wizards locked him up to a multi-year deal.
The Latvia-born forward is among the highest-paid sixth-men in the league for good reason. His ability to explode from distance is nuclear in its impact on the Wizards. Not only does Washington seem to rely on his shooting to space the floor, but their likelihood to win seems to go with how Davis goes.
- Washington is 11-15 with Bertans in the lineup
- In 11 wins, Bertans is averaging 13.9 points while shooting 45.3 percent from three
- In 15 losses, Bertans scores 8.8 points while only shooting 29.8 percent from three
My instincts say that 26 games are a sufficient enough sample size. For better or for worse, the Wizards are living and dying by the Bertans three-ball. This is a dangerous game to play. Luckily, their recently improved play suggests that perhaps they will not be as reliant on their shooter moving forward.
Per Chris Miller of NBC Sports: Wizards’ Two D’s to Victory are ‘Defense and Davis’
For those who do not know NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller, very few voices in NBA media understand the pulse of the Wizards as he does. Homerism is standard for a local broadcast, but it is refreshing to see it done fairly and well. As the team’s insider, Miller is as likely to defend the team during the post-game analysis as he is to hold them accountable.
The Wizards are surging in the standings, as winners of seven of their last 10 games. A newfound defensive identity is indicative of their recent success. Per ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry, Washington has posted a near-league average defensive rating within their last 15 games. After dwelling in the cellar of league-worst territory, that is a wonderful development.
Meanwhile, Bertans found his touch after struggling with his jumper for the first quarter of the season. This includes a career-high 35 points off of nine three-pointers against the Denver Nuggets. Suffice to say, Washington defeated the Nuggets last Wednesday night.
Miller realized that between a stellar defensive performance and a dynamic Bertans shooting display, the Wizards could put themselves in a nice position to win. He coined the pattern as “D and D.” This acronym is Miller’s key to the game’ night-in and night-out.
Bertans Listed as Questionable for Tonight’s Game
Davis Bertans (right knee soreness) is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Timberwolves.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 26, 2021
Bertans went into last night’s game questionable, as well, and ended up not playing in Denver.
In their last game, Washington once again defeated the Nuggets in a 112-110 nail-biter. The result is significant because it marks the first game the Wizards have won without Bertans this season. Previously, they lost a trio of games in January without their marksman.
With the exception of an apparent Denver snafu involving a time-and-score situation, Washington fought hard for their stops. They bested the Nuggets in the turnover battle 18-10. Rui Hachimura was active with his length and Raul Neto snagged a career-best five steals. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook were disciplined and steady when the Wizards needed stops.
It was evident that Washington understood that without Bertans they were forced to manufacture their own luck elsewhere. If they continue to follow this path, Miller could be stuck finding a new catchphrase. I’m certain he welcomes that proposition.