Davis Bertans, after 3-point contest snub, torching NBA from beyond arc

Davis Bertans
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Davis Bertans was making 47.2% of his 3-pointers on 4.4 attempts per game when the NBA announced the 3-point-contest field last season. The selections included

  • Seth Curry (48.5%, 2.9)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (42.9%, 4.0)

Not Bertans.

Bertans, who was then on the Spurs, said he was told he got omitted because he didn’t shoot enough. But he doesn’t believe that. He has two other theories:

“I was playing in San Antonio. It was a small market. People outside of San Antonio rarely follow the team.”

“They try to bring in guys who are more popular to bring the show, and it’s more fun for the fans. I think that’s the direction they went. They bring in Dirk and the Curry brothers.”

Bertans said he understands why the NBA chose the players it did. He also appreciated spending more time with his wife and baby daughter. “When the All-Star game was going on, I wasn’t upset for a second that I wasn’t there,” Bertans said. But he wanted to compete. He cheered for unheralded Nets guard Joe Harris, who campaigned his way into the contest and won it over Stephen Curry.

This season, Bertans wants his own turn in the event in Chicago.

“I don’t think they can use the same excuse if they don’t take me again,” Bertans said.

They sure can’t.

Now with the Wizards, Bertans is attempting 8.6 3-pointers per game and making 46.2% of them. The 6-foot-10 power forward is on track for one of the best outside-shooting seasons in NBA history.

Nobody has ever matched his combination of volume and efficiency. Here are the highest 3-point percentages among players attempting even six 3-pointers per game:

Davis Bertans 3-point shooting

Bertans is making nearly four 3-pointers per game. That puts him on pace to make 325 3s over 82 games. Only Stephen Curry (four times) and James Harden (once) have ever made 300 3-pointers in a season.

Not bad for someone who has repeatedly been afterthought.

Drafted No. 42 by the Pacers in 2011, Bertans was traded to San Antonio on draft night. You know the deal by two other players involved: No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard and George Hill.

Bertans remained in Europe several more seasons. He tore his ACL in 2013, rehabbed and returned stronger. Then, he tore the same ACL again in 2015. One of his main responsibilities at the time was calming his family, which was concerned the injury could derail his career.

“Everybody else was more worried about me than I was,” Bertans said.

Bertans did what he did during his first rehab. He kept his head down and focused on the day-to-day.

Finally, he signed with the Spurs in 2016. Bertans played well, but his role remained limited on a team resistant to 3-point shooting. He mostly just spotted up beyond the arc to space the floor and shoot when open.

Last summer, San Antonio practically gave away Bertans and his $7 million salary to create flexibility for signing Marcus Morris. Morris reneged on his deal with the Spurs to sign with the Knicks. But Bertans was already gone.

That worked out great for Bertans. In Washington, he has the ultimate green light.

“Any shot is a good shot,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Bertans, who’s averaging 15.8 points per game. “I mean, really.”

There’s seemingly no limit on how Bertans creates and knocks down 3-pointers. His height and quick release allow him to shoot over defenders, and his mobility and ability to square up on the move get him open. Everything works.

He makes catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (minimum: 60 attempts):

Davis Bertans 3-point shooting

He launches off-the-dribble 3-pointers (minimum: 30 attempts):

Davis Bertans 3-point shooting

He cashes in when left open or wide open, per NBA.com, on 3-pointers (minimum: 60 attempts):

Davis Bertans 3-point shooting

He hits 3-pointers when the defense is tight or very tight, per NBA.com (minimum: 40 attempts):

Davis Bertans 3-point shooting

He bombs from deep (26 to 40 feet, so to filter out end-of-quarter heaves, per Basketball-Reference) (minimum: 40 attempts):

Davis Bertans 3-point shooting

The versatility of Bertans’ shooting is just incredible.

“He’s J.J. Redick at 6-9, 6-10,” Washington guard Ish Smith said.

Bertans will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said he wants to re-sign Bertans, who’ll be up for a big raise. The 27-year-old could help many teams on his next contract.

But Bertans isn’t looking too far ahead. Eying a spot in the 3-point contest is about as far as he’ll go. He has more pressing issues, like opposing defenses increasingly keying on him.

“You’ve got to be on high alert if he’s standing over in the corner looking like he’s doing nothing. That tells you he’s trying to trick you to get off,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s coming.”

What will Rockets do at trade deadline? Send out Gordon? Bring in Collins?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
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There’s a sense in league circles that this is the final season Houston will be okay with having one of the worst — as of today, the worst — record in the NBA. The Rockets hope to grab one of the big names at the top of the draft board this season, but they already have drafted Jalen Green at No. 2 (2021) and Jabari Smith Jr. at No. 3 (2022), plus made a draft night trade for Alperen Şengün (who is playing well). With cap space to spend and extensions coming up, the tanking days will be over.

How will that impact the Rockets at this trade deadline? Here are a few names to watch.

Kelly Iko at The Athletic reports the Rockets have interest in the Hawks’ John Collins and the sides have talked, but there is no real traction yet.

There has been nothing concrete from the Rockets — merely ideas floated by the Hawks to Houston among other teams — but the interest is real.

The Rockets could also be part of a larger, three-team trade to move Collins.

Eric Gordon remains on the trade block, as he has been for more than a year. Gordon has been frustrated waiting, but the Rockets have held out for what they thought was fair — a first-round pick — to no avail. That price likely comes down, and according to Iko at The Athletic, the front office is “more inclined to trade him now” than in the past, but the proof will be in a deal.

• Teams also are calling about K.J. Martin, according to Iko.

K.J. Martin, there continues to be interest in the 22-year-old combo forward who has been quite productive as a starter — averaging 14 points and seven rebounds on 35 percent shooting from 3 — but nothing concrete at this juncture in terms of offers on the table.

The Rockets like Martin, it’s going to take a serious offer to get them to consider it.

Knicks reportedly offered multiple first-round picks for OG Anunoby, got nowhere

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
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What are the Toronto Raptors going to do at the trade deadline?

It’s less than two weeks before the trade deadline and the entire NBA is still asking that question, the Raptors are the one team that could turn this trade deadline from a dud to epic if they decide to pivot toward a rebuild. Are they willing to trade players like OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam, or will they look to add a more traditional big man such as the Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl, who has been linked to the Raptors in rumors? Everything seems to be on the table.

Anunoby is a player a lot of teams covet, including New York. The Knicks reached out to the Raptors, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

“And Anunoby with Toronto, I mean, that would cost you a lot. That would cost you significant draft compensation. Maybe the Knicks are there, maybe they’re feeling like they could make the playoffs and make a big push if you added in Anunoby. I know that we reported they contacted Toronto on Anunoby and I was told in that conversation they offered multiple firsts. But this was a while back… Toronto has done a lot since then. But I don’t think the league is crystal clear on what [the Raptors] want to do on Anunoby.”

Anunoby is an elite on-ball wing defender who can be a finisher, averaging 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game at age 25 — the asking price will start at two unprotected first-round picks in this market. The Knicks may have thrown some of their protected picks in the conversation, but Toronto’s asking price is reportedly sky-high because they’re not eager to get rid of him.

Anunoby is making $17.4 million this season and is under contract for $18.2 million next season, a fair price for what he brings to the court (he has a player option at $19.9 million in 2024-25). What the Raptors do with him may signal their direction.

At the deadline, most people around the league expect Toronto to trade Gary Trent Jr., but that’s it. Any other big moves are likely this offseason. If ever.

Reprots: Luka Doncic day-to-day with “mild” ankle sprain

Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks
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While there are grades of ankle sprains, ask anyone trying to walk around on one if there is a “mild” version.

Yet that’s what Mavericks sources say about Luka Doncic’s ankle sprain suffered against the Suns on Thursday night. He is “day-to-day” with the injury, a story first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (and since confirmed by others).

Doncic has been playing through ankle soreness in recent weeks and it’s fair to expect the Mavericks to give him a few games off. However, it can’t be too many for a team fighting for a playoff spot, the Mavs are 0-5 in games Doncic has rested this season and have been outscored by 5.3 points per 100 possessions this season when he sits (although they did beat the Suns largely without him Thursday). Doncic is an All-Star starter averaging 33.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists a game.

Dallas plays next on Saturday against the Jazz. It would be a surprise to see Doncic suit up for that game.

https://twitter.com/CallieCaplan/status/1619016699289956353

Boban? Crowder? Holmgren? Exploring player votes for All-Star starters

CrawsOver Pro-Am
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Four NBA players — not one as a joke, but four… as a joke — voted for injured Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren to start the NBA All-Star Game.

The NBA All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday, chosen from a weighted vote of fans (50%), media (25%) and current players (25%).

While most NBA players may take their All-Star Game starter votes seriously, some do not — they vote for friends, college teammates, guys with the same agent, or just whoever they feel like.

Which is comedy gold once we comb through the public vote (Note: names are not attached to who cast a vote, but we do see who got votes). This season, that list of players getting at least one vote to be an All-Star starter include:

Bol Bol (Orlando Magic, he got six votes)
Willy Hernangomez (New Orleans Pelicans, he got five votes)
Juancho Hernangomez (Toronto Raptors, he got three votes)
Omer Yurtseven (Miami Heat, he got three votes)
Georges Niang (Philadelphia 76ers, he got five votes)
Ochai Agbaji (Utah Jazz, he got four votes)
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Oklahoma City Thunder, he got three votes)
Bismack Biyombo (Phoenix Suns, he got three votes)
Jae Crowder (Phoenix Suns, he got two votes)
Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat, he got two votes)
Blake Griffin (Boston Celtics)
Boban Marjanovic (Houston Rockets)
Kemba Walker (Dallas Mavericks)
Kendrick Nunn (Los Angeles Lakers)
Ish Smith (Denver Nuggets)
Torrey Craig (Phoenix Suns)
Luka Garza (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings)
Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia 76ers)
R.J. Hampton (Orlando Magic)
Johnny Davis (Washington Wizards)
Cedi Osman (Cleveland Cavaliers)
MarJon Beauchamp (Milwaukee Bucks)
Paul Reed (Philadelphia 76ers)

That is just a fraction of the entire list.