During the second half of Tuesday night's game between the Wizards and the Hornets, you could almost feel the panic of the Charlotte players every time they went from the offensive to the defense.
Where is the? Have you crossed half a court yet? Put a body on it NOW.
No, it was not the two-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who is fifth in the league to score with 27.4 points per game, which caused a frenzy in the Hornets. It was fourth-year forward Davis Bertans, who had not averaged more than six field goal attempts per game before this season.
Bertans almost burned the networks in the Spectrum Center, scoring 32 career points in 11 of 18 shots from the field and 8 of 12 shots from the 3-point line (plus two 4-point plays). After Bertans' sixth bomb from the deep, which came two steps from the line with Nicolas Batum right on his grid, Beal had to be resurrected at the opposite baseline.
When Beal thought about the best shooters he had played with, Bertans jumped to the top of the list.
"Let's see. Probably number 1, honestly," Beal said after the game. "I think Trev (Ariza) had a very good year. Martell (Webster) had a good year one year, but in terms of the way he shoots it, he is number 1, sure."
That is because Bertans' outbreak in Charlotte was no accident. Through more than 20 games, the "Latvian laser,quot; is firing a crazy 46.5 percent in 8.6 attempts of 3 points per game. These are not just his standard catch and shoot looks with a great inept man who loses Bertans' trail on the perimeter (although he is the top scorer of catching and shooting in the league). He is running off the screens and shooting in the blink of an eye.
Of his 198 3-point attempts this season, Bertans has taken 175 less than two seconds after touching the ball, according to NBA.com tracking data.
"Get out of the screens, that's what I really like to do, and I feel like that's the best part of my game," said Bertans. "They've been using me that way here, and the boys have been looking for me. Making shots helps. The more shots you make, the more plays (there will be) for you."
And he has done many of them. Bertans is fourth in the NBA in triples (92) behind James Harden (117), Devonte & # 39; Graham (103) and Buddy Hield (94) despite playing much less minutes from the bench than those guards. Bertans will not be confused with Harden in the short term, but opposing teams know exactly how the possession will end if he finds some space.
That gravity can open the floor for your teammates.
What separates Bertans from other stretches 4, and really most shooters, period, is his ability to catch the movement, maintain balance and turn his body towards the basket with a fluid movement.
"The great big shooters, the wings, have the ability. It seems they are squaring in the air," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "The Reggie Millers, the Ray Allens, Mark Price, those great shooters, simply have the ability that the range is not a factor. Their legs, their mechanics, their angle of entry into the arch are always at the same level."
"He is one of the best, definitely one of the best shooters."
Bertans believes he has always had this rare skill on some level, but he raised it by playing in Serbia under the coach of Partizan Belgrade Dule Vujosevic. A hand on the face is nothing compared to what Bertans found abroad.
"A great but crazy coach in Serbia, did some ridiculous exercises," Bertans said. "Some other trainers hold some brooms, they give me gardening gloves to wear when I'm shooting, they put a patch on my eye, things like that. I've seen it all. Sometimes, when the defenses are playing much closer, it's just another day I've been before. "
This sudden appearance has helped fuel the offensive in the top five in Washington, but with the Wizards out of the playoff table of the Eastern Conference in 7-16 overall, it also presents interesting questions about Bertans' future.
When the Wizards acquired Bertans in an exchange with the Spurs last season, they knew they had added a good player, but they couldn't have expected this kind of performance. (Gregg Popovich is probably still furious over the deal that led to the Marcus Morris debacle of 2019). Bertans currently has a negotiation contract, earning only $ 7 million this season, but will enter free agency in 2020. Any league team could use a 6-10 striker who can turn off the lights, so there will be competition for its services.
At 27, Bertans fits very well with the timeline of Beal (26 years old) and is exactly the type of player that Washington should want with Beal and John Wall, every time he returns from an injury. He is a floor space shooter, of course, but Bertans is also smart with his movement off the ball, he doesn't swallow too many possessions and plays a decent positional defense despite his athletic limitations. Your impact is felt every time you speak.
"I keep saying he's not just a shooter," Brooks said. "He is a basketball player, an elite basketball player."
However, the Wizards could take an alternative route and measure the value of Bertans in the commercial market, particularly if the team continues to decline in the rankings before the February 6 deadline. Bertans is the type of player who could potentially play a playoff game with a quarter of a hot shot, so contestants would have no problem matching that $ 7 million number in an exchange, and Washington could get a valuable asset instead to risk losing Bertans to a team willing to pay more next summer.
The way the Wizards handle the next two months will be key. Despite Bertans shooting exhibition, the Wizards still lost to the Hornets, and are likely to continue losing if they keep the dubious title of the worst defense in the league.
"It's great that he is able to do that, but if we want to win and be in the playoffs and be that kind of team of caliber, we can't just rely on DB to make those shots," Beal said. "But it's great that he does."
Regardless of where Bertans does at the end of the season, he can bet that the opposing players will be on high alert.