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2020 Hornets free agent forum: Davis Bertans

The 6’10” flamethrower is one of the NBA’s elite shooters, but is his overall game worth the price?

Charlotte Hornets v Washington Wizards Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the 2020 Hornets Free Agent Forum where each week I will profile a potential 2020 free agent target for the Charlotte Hornets. Most of the players I’ll highlight will be unrestricted free agents (list here) whose ages and skill sets fit nicely with a young, up-and-coming Hornets roster. Feel free to engage in the comments because what makes free agency so fun to debate is it’s not just about the player, it’s also about roster construction, cap usage, and culture.

Player: Davis Bertans, SF

Age: 28

Height: 6’10”

Standing reach: 8’10”

2020 stats: 29.3 MPG, 15.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 43.4% FG, 42.4% 3PT

Estimated market value: $15-$17 million annually

After spending his first three NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs in a reserve role, Davis Bertans spent 2019-20 with the Washington Wizards and had a breakout season. The 6’10” small forward hit 42.4% of his absurd 8.7 three-point attempts per game, making him one of the best high-volume gunners in the league.

The positives

Bertans is an elite floor spacer who has knocked down more than 42% of his three-point attempts in each of the last two seasons. Per ESPN, his Offensive Real Plus/Minus of 4.36 last year was the second best among all small forwards, sandwiched between LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. When looking beyond small forwards, Bertans had the 11th highest ORPM in the entire league. That’s elite, my friends. Having a weapon like that can change an entire offense. Few wings can stretch the floor like Bertans.

Pick-and-rolls with Bertans and either Devonte’ Graham or Terry Rozier could be lethal. If the Hornets draft center James Wiseman at No. 3, Bertans could orbit him like a satellite and make teams pay for sending help to the post.

The fourth-year vet just turned 28 and seems to have his best years ahead of him. His age and career trajectory fits nicely with the Hornets timeline.

The red flags

For as good as Bertans is on the offensive end, he has clear defensive flaws. His Defensive Real Plus/Minus of -2.55 ranked 96th of 100 small forwards. He’s a defensive liability. Coach James Borrego would need to design defensive schemes to hide Bertans’ defensive flaws, something that has become increasingly difficult in a league where smart offenses run pick-and-rolls until they get the one-on-one matchup they want.

At 6’10” Bertans isn’t a good rebounder. For his career he has averaged just 5.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Plus, the fit alongside Miles Bridges and PJ Washington would be clunky. Bertans doesn’t have the position versatility to float between shooting guard or power forward. He’s a small forward. Period.

The summary

While I absolutely love watching Davis Bertans go bonkers from downtown, he’s going to command too much money at $15-$17 million annually for a team that already has its small forward of the future in Miles Bridges. Plus, while his three-point shooting can basically transform an offense, his defensive liabilities and lack of rebounding take the shine off his offensive game.

I don’t say that to be overly critical of an elite offensive weapon. He’ll get paid this summer and will be an asset for the team that lands him. I just don’t see his fit being in Charlotte.


Would you sign Davis Bertans to a $15-$17 million contract?

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