Wizards

Unseld Jr. confident in Bertans despite slow start

Wizards

Davis Bertans' 2020-21 season was defined by a pattern of relatively minor injuries preventing him from achieving consistency. Each absence affected his game shape and rhythm. So far this season, a 10-game departure due to a left ankle sprain has seemingly had the same effect.

The difference year-over-year is that the Wizards now have more depth to turn to and that was seen in Saturday night's win over the Mavericks when Bertans was amid an 0-for-5 night from three. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. was able to dole out some of Bertans' minutes to others, including rookie Corey Kispert who scored two big baskets in the fourth quarter.

Bertans has now played three games since returning and is 1-for-16 from long range. His minutes have decreased in each game, from 19 against the Pelicans, down to 16 against the Thunder and then 15 vs. the Mavs.

Unseld Jr., though, expressed some confidence in Bertans' abilities after the win in Dallas.

"I think it's just timing, getting his legs right. He's too good of a shooter. At some point, it's going to open up for him," Unseld Jr. said.

The Wizards head coach also detailed why he thinks Bertans may be struggling out of the gate. It sounded similar to the issues Bertans experienced last year when he was in and out of the lineup.

"He missed 10 games. In that stretch, yes he's working out, but we haven't played a ton of 5-on-5. Just with the way the schedule has panned out, we haven't had a ton of practice. Without having those reps, and you could argue our group as a whole has not shot it well aside from tonight. So, it's not just an issue for him," Unseld Jr. said.

 

Bertans, 29, is now averaging just 5.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game while shooting 25.0% from the field and 23.9% from the perimeter. That is in a snapshot of just 10 games.

Bertans shot 42.4% from three on 8.7 attempts per game in 2019-20, his first year in Washington. Last year, his percentage dropped to 39.5% on 7.5 attempts. Though it was a down year for him, and admittedly, he was still the team's best 3-point shooter and made the most catch-and-shoot threes per game of any player in the league.

The Wizards as a team have been mostly cold from three this season, as Unseld Jr. noted. They rank 29th in makes per game (10.4), 25th in attempts (32.1) and 28th in percentage (32.4). That could work in Bertans' favor to stay in the lineup, as they are going to have to find shooting from somewhere and at some point.

The Wizards this season are 10-2 when they make 10 or more threes. When they combine their sound defense with even decent outside shooting, it is a winning combination.

Given that, Bertans is likely to keep getting opportunities. Unseld Jr. believes his threes will start going in sooner than later, and the Wizards could certainly use them.