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San Antonio Spurs: 3 goals for Davis Bertans in 2017-18 season

By Rob Wolkenbrod
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2017 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2017 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
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San Antonio Spurs, 1st September 2017, Fenerbahce Arena, Istanbul, Turkey; FIBA Eurobasket Group D; Serbia versus Latvia; Power Forward Davis Bertans
San Antonio Spurs, 1st September 2017, Fenerbahce Arena, Istanbul, Turkey; FIBA Eurobasket Group D; Serbia versus Latvia; Power Forward Davis Bertans

Davis Bertans will enter his second season on the San Antonio Spurs, one that’s also crucial for his career. What should he look to accomplish?

Davis Bertans has technically been part of the San Antonio Spurs since 2011. He arrived in the trade that sent George Hill to the Indiana Pacers. Two draft picks went back to the Spurs, which became Bertans and Kawhi Leonard. Not bad, right?

It took five years but Bertans finally arrived in the NBA for the 2016-17 season. He signed a two-year deal that paid him $543,000 in the first season.

Year 2 will see Bertans receive $1.3 million. It’s also the last season before he hits free agency on July 1, 2018. It will be as a restricted free agent.

An improved season could get the Latvian forward a major raise for his future contract. That’s unless he accepts a qualifying offer, if the franchise offers it.

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In his rookie season, he had 4.5 points per game,1.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent from 3-point range. This came in just 12.1 minutes per game. If he can expand on this, it will not only do good for the Spurs, but his potential earnings in free agency. Will SAS be forced to match an offer from another franchise? Will it be worth the money?

Bertans’ year should be focused on improvement, which means setting goals to strive toward. What could he accomplish in the 2017-18 season? How will it impact the team?

Must Read: 10 most important games of the 2017-18 season

Let’s look at three goals Bertans can aim toward this season.

Next: Earn more playing time

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 13: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2017 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 13: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2017 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Earn about 20 minutes per game

In Davis Bertans’ rookie season, he played just 12.1 minutes per game in 67 appearances. It wasn’t much, as head coach Gregg Popovich played him in spurts, mostly to stretch the floor from the three or four spots.

David Lee was ahead of Bertans in the rotation. He played over 18 minutes per game as the backup power forward to LaMarcus Aldridge, and produced well. This included 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 79 appearances. A partially torn patellar tendon ended Lee’s playoffs, however, and likely impacted his free-agent status.

The Spurs didn’t bring in power forward competition for Bertans and to replace Lee, one of their most curious moves of the offseason. Is that a vote of confidence for the young forward? Or did the team struggle to find another option to play the backup role?

Did Bertans make David Lee expendable ? https://t.co/sDuJGxhhc3

— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) September 19, 2017

The reason doesn’t matter, as Bertans has a clear path at playing time. He should aim to scoop up as much time possible, going up by about 75 percent from his 12.1 minutes in 2016-17. That can be about 20 minutes per game, a more than healthy number for this second-year pro.

More playing time should mean better stats for Bertans. What area could he see the biggest boost in for the 2017-18 season?

Next: Average five rebounds per game

SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 29: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs posts up during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on January 29, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 29: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs posts up during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on January 29, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Average five rebounds per game

More playing time means more responsibility for Bertans. He’ll play a bigger role and be asked to do more in his position in the rotation, if he can handle it. Given the promise he displayed in 2016-17 and EuroBasket, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Increased on-court time likely means a spike in statistical production, too. That goes for any NBA player that gets more playing time than the previous game, set of games, or season. If that’s the case, Bertans should aim for five rebounds per game.

Going for five seems high, especially since he grabbed just over one per game last season. It doesn’t sound anything like a power forward. 12 other San Antonio Spurs players averaged more rebounds than Bertans did, including Joel Anthony, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Tony Parker. By improving to five per game, based on the previous year’s numbers, that would push him to at least No. 6 on the list.

This accomplishment also better proves Bertans’ ability to be a power forward and potentially earns more trust from Popovich. It’s all part of his growth as a player which Spurs fans will witness in the upcoming season. A full block per game can be added to this, as well, especially if this rejection from EuroBasket means anything:

.@DBertans_42 ????? @basketbols#EuroBasket2017 pic.twitter.com/0Y1lqsNXLU

— FIBA (@FIBA) September 1, 2017

Will Bertans rise to the occasion?

Next: Shoot 45 percent from 3-point range

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MARCH 19: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Sacramento Kings during the game on March 19, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MARCH 19: Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Sacramento Kings during the game on March 19, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Shoot 45 percent from 3-point range

Bertans’ game starts with his 3-point shooting. That was apparent for all 67 games he played in the 2016-17 season for the San Antonio Spurs.

Just how much of a 3-point shooter was he? Of the 3.5 field goal attempts he had per game, 2.6 of them were from behind the arc. That made 74 percent of all shots he took, which was 173 of 234. He made 39 percent of them, however, so that doesn’t hurt.

Bertans will need to expand his game beyond the outside shooting. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t focus and even improve on his shot. He can aim for a higher percentage from 3-point range; how about 45 percent? That’s Kyle Korver territory.

Shooting that high would make a great 3-point shooting Spurs team even better. They’ve been one of the best at this for a few years, with players like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and Patty Mills that help in this part of the game. Add in Rudy Gay and an improved Bertans, and it’s an upgrade to either match or exceed other skilled shooting teams.

45 percent shouldn’t be an unreasonable goal for Bertans. It’s about efficiency and maturity in his game. That can come from less 3-point shots per game, allowing him to focus on open looks from the outside and find open baskets from inside the arc.

Must Read: 25 forgotten players that were on the Spurs

What goals would you give Bertans for the 2017-18 season?

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