How did Davis Bertans perform in his sophomore season with the San Antonio Spurs?
Upon the start of the 2017-18 season, Davis Bertans seemed lined up to play the usual stretch four role off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs. He did not find that opportunity immediately but rediscovered it in short order.
Bertans barely had a role for all of October and most of November, playing in double-digit minutes per game just four times. It was not due to Joffrey Lauvergne, who missed a chunk of the season’s start, but Rudy Gay‘s use as the new stretch four off the bench.
Then came the injuries which gave Bertans a consistent spot in the rotation. Not only was he handed an opportunity but he succeeded, breaking out for 6-for-12 shooting (4-for-9 from 3-point range) in a Dec. 3 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This opened his season and led to a productive start of 2018, receiving 10 starts over a span of six weeks when Gregg Popovich tinkered with the starting lineup.
Bertans shined in a Jan. 8 game against the Sacramento Kings, scoring 28 points on 11-for-15 shooting.
Once Gay returned from a heel injury, after the All-Star break, Bertans kept his rotation spot. Statistically, there did not appear to be an issue, as he put together five consecutive games of double-digit points, but it happened during one of San Antonio’s worst stretches of the season.
From Feb. 3 (the first of a streak of starts for Bertans) to Mar. 12, the Spurs went 3-10. Once Popovich shrunk the Latvian forward’s role from Mar. 13 and on, the team accumulated a 10-5 record.
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It’s impossible to blame it all on Bertans, as LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an injury on Mar. 13 to captain this run. The former was not shooting poorly, either, at 39.3 percent from behind the arc. But Popovich went for smaller lineups that had Aldridge at the five and Patty Mills playing off Dejounte Murray.
Pau Gasol went to the bench for most of the rest of the season, so it pushed Bertans down the pecking order.
Despite the inconsistent use, Bertans had more minutes per game (14.1) than his rookie campaign 12.1). His 44 percent shooting mark stayed identical, as well, except the 3-point percentage went from 39.9 to 37.3, which is far from a disappointment.
What you see is what you get with Bertans. He’s a stretch four off the bench that opens the Spurs offense and will find a breakout game or two along the way.
Bertans finishes with a C grade for the season. There were no noticeable improvements in his game, but the sporadic bursts of offense allowed his impact to be felt. The 25 year old will hit restricted free agency this summer.