Davis Bertans has not been the reliable long-range threat this season he was for the Wizards one year ago, so far shooting just 34.9 percent from three (7.7) attempts after hitting 42.4 percent (8.7 3PA/g) in 2019-20. His struggles have stood out on a Wizards team that is shooting the second-lowest three-point percentage (33.8) in the NBA this season.
The best way for the Wizards to improve that number is for Bertans to heat up and begin leading the way. He was re-signed to an $80 million contract in the offseason mainly because of his three-point shooting, after a breakout season when he established himself as one of the best three-point marksmen in the league.
Monday night against the Rockets may have been a step in the right direction. Bertans came out hot with four threes in the first half. He went 5-for-6 for the game, falling one three short of his season-high.
The five threes were also the most Bertans has made in over a month, and his most since returning from Covid-19 protocol. As head coach Scott Brooks noted recently, Bertans was finding his shooting rhythm right before the Wizards' season shut down in January. He's been searching for it ever since.
Bertans, though, felt like Monday was a breakthrough for him and he could sense it before the game.
"It has been a few weeks that in the pregame shooting my shots are falling and then once I go into the game not so much anymore. Today the feeling was ‘this is it.’ I don’t know how I can explain it," Bertans said.
"The shots were falling. I had the feeling that I know when I let it go, the ball is going in."
Bertans, 28, says he has tried to help the Wizards in other ways when he isn't making shots, like by setting screens and boxing out. But clearly, it is his shooting they need the most.
Bertans' shooting is an important element of the Wizards' offense. He spreads the floor so Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal can attack off the dribble. That is even more important with Thomas Bryant, one of the Wizards' best shooters, out for the season with an ACL injury. Bertans also supercharges the Wizards' transition offense, with the ability to catch-and-shoot on the run from long distance.
Bertans' five threes helped pace the Wizards to a 12-for-30 (40%) night from the perimeter. They had previously shot below 30 percent in six straight games, their longest streak since 2009.
Bertans is only one guy, but maybe if he gets going, others will follow.
"Once you start playing well as a team and start seeing a few shots go in, the rejuvenation is there," Beal said.
Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 7 p.m. on Wednesday for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Denver Nuggets.