Scott Brooks says he must get Davis Bertans more shots; is that the problem?

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Chase Hughes
·5 min read
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Is it on the Wizards to get Davis Bertans more shots? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When he went 14-for-17 from three across two games last week, it looked like Davis Bertans had turned a corner in what has overall been a seesaw season for him. He even said himself that his shot felt different and he was much more confident at the release.

In the three games since, however, he has regressed, making just 31.6 percent of his threes on 6.3 attempts per game. Though some of Bertans' shots have been in key moments, his head coach Scott Brooks was talking after Tuesday's loss to the Clippers like something needs to change.

"It was one of those nights. I think they were really locked in on him. They know that when he has a big shooting night, we're hard to beat. But also, I've gotta do a better job of creating opportunities for him," Brooks said.

Bertans went 2-for-4 from the field, all three-pointers, which is technically 50 percent shooting. But six points is a minimal impact for a player who can change games when he makes threes in volume.

The Clippers know that well. Last year, in the first meeting between the teams, Bertans went 6-for-9 from three. The second time they played, just a week later, the Clippers had Kawhi Leonard guarding him. Bertans still went 6-for-12 from long range.

There has been more attention from opposing defenses this year following his breakout season in 2019-20, which earned him a five-year contract worth $80 million from the Wizards. That was seen on Tuesday night, as after Bertans made two threes late in the third quarter, he was followed around Paul George in the beginning of the fourth.

Stingy defense or not, Brooks believes more can be done to help get Bertans going offensively.

"He should not only take four shots in 26 minutes. I take responsibility for that. I need to do a better job of getting him looks. They were really locked in and keyed in on him," Brooks said.

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Bertans is now shooting 37.2 percent from three on 7.7 attempts per game, which is solid but not spectacular. It's very far off from the 42.4 percent he shot last season on 8.7 attempts. He's also averaging fewer points, 11.0 compared to the career-high 15.4 he had in 2019-20.

Bertans' overall season numbers, however, do need to be presented with some caveats. He missed almost three weeks of games due to a bout with the coronavirus during the team's outbreak in January. Of all the players who battled Covid-19, he had about as rough a go as anyone. In the weeks after returning, he clearly wasn't in game shape and his shooting percentages suffered.

But when it comes to Brooks' point about getting him more open shots, NBA tracking data suggests that's not necessarily the issue. He's averaging about the same amount of attempts that are considered open or wide open than he did last season, he's just not making them at nearly the same rate.

Davis Bertans' 3PT success vs. closest defender

2019-20

40.4% on 2.6 3PA on tight (2-4 ft)

41.4% on 4.0 3PA on open (4-6 ft)

47.7% on 2.1 3PA on wide open (6+ ft)

2020-21

33.3% on 2.0 3PA on tight (2-4 ft)

39.1% on 3.4 3PA on open (4-6 ft)

39.7% on 2.2 3PA on wide open (6+ ft)

As you see there, last season Bertans shot a higher percentage when guarded tightly than he is making this season when he's wide open. And interestingly enough, a higher percentage of Bertans' total three-point attempts have been open or wide open this season than last. 

There has been a steep drop-off in his success on catch-and-shoot threes. While Bertans was arguably the best catch-and-shoot scorer in the league last season, knocking down 43.1 percent of his three-point attempts, this year it has dropped to 38.7 percent.

Adding to Bertans' frustration lately has been offensive fouls. On both Monday and Tuesday night he was called for kicking his legs out to draw contact on three-point shots. He only got called for that once last season. This year, he has already matched his career-high for offensive fouls with five despite playing only 26 games.

Now we know Bertans is dealing with right knee soreness, which was previously unreported until Wednesday night when the Wizards revealed he is questionable for Thursday's game against the Nuggets. So, perhaps getting him healthier will help. Or, maybe it's like Brooks says and it's a matter of calling more plays for Bertans.

Bertans himself has studied film of his misses this season, at one point saying he noticed most of them were falling short. You can bet he's searching for answers just like Brooks is.

Whatever it is, the Wizards sure could use more consistency from Bertans. When he's on, he can alter games with his shooting and when he isn't making them, they clearly miss it.