Examining Davis Bertans’ Effectiveness

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Project Spurs illustration/Associated Press

Davis Bertans is currently in his third season with the San Antonio Spurs, meaning only two players on the roster have been with the team longer than him, Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge. Because of his familiarity with the system and his increased role this season, Bertans is becoming an important player for the Spurs this season.

According to CleaningTheGlass, Bertans is scoring 128.3 points per 100 shot attempts. No other Spurs’ player is scoring more per 100 shot attempts and only 14% of bigs are. A majority of Bertans’ shots are threes, with only 30% of his shots coming from within the arc. He is making 42% of these 3 point attempts, better than 89% of all other big men. This has helped contribute to a better 3 point percentage for the team as a whole this season over last. The Spurs ranked 25th in 3 point percentage last season at 35.6% and are currently ranked 1st in that category this season at 39.5%. Many of the Spurs are shooting better this year over last, including Bertans, who shot 37% from 3 last season.

Every made 3 and 92% of  all field goals that Bertans makes come off of an assist from a teammate. Because of this, it would be easy to make the assumption that lineups that feature Bertans and either Aldridge or DeRozan would be where Bertans is most effective, but the numbers don’t agree. The net rating for all lineups that feature Bertans and Aldridge is -6.6. The net rating for lineups that feature Bertans and DeRozan is -0.9. Lineups that feature all three have a positive net rating of +2.6, but lineups that feature Bertans with both DeRozan and Aldridge out have a net rating of +16.5.

The numbers may give us a picture of how the Spurs are performing with those players on the court together but they don’t tell us why. One possible reason is that the Spurs’ bench is outplaying other teams’ bench most games. Lineups that feature Patty Mills have a net rating of +4.0. Lineups that feature Marco Belinelli don’t have as favorable a net rating at -2.1, but 5 of the 6 lineups that Belinelli has played with the most have a positive net rating. Lineups that feature Bertans, Mills, and Belinelli have a net rating of +6.1.

Incorporating an All-Star player can take time. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, when the Spurs first signed Aldridge, the bench was playing more reliably on offense than the starters. While Coach Gregg Popovich is still working out the best way to utilize DeRozan and Aldridge’s time on the court together, the game plan of the bench is more simple, especially with the number of 3-point shooters. Bertans fits perfectly on a Spurs bench that has helped keep them competitive in some games.

Bertans hasn’t put up great rebounding numbers, rebounding only 12.6% of opponent’s missed field goal attempts, placing him in the 13th percentile for all big men, but the Spurs do rebound better with Bertans on the floor grabbing 1.8% more of their own misses and 1.1% more of of opponents misses with Bertans on the floor than with him off.

Overall, the Spurs’ net rating improves by 5.9 points per 100 possessions with Bertans on the floor. This seems to suggest that the Spurs have the a role that fits him well. He has been effective for the Spurs coming off the bench and with the role players playing well, the Spurs could be closer to playing better on the court overall than it may seem.

All stats from cleaningtheglass.com

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