Zooming In: Bertans’ Career High Scoring Game vs Kings

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Monday in the San Antonio Spurs’ comeback victory against the Sacramento Kings, second year forward Davis Bertans scored a new career high 28 points in the win.

Here’s the basic box score line from Bertans: 31 minutes, 11-of-15 shooting (73%) from the floor, 6-of-9 (67%) from 3-point range, 3 assists, and 2 blocks

As you can see from the quarter by quarter scoring numbers, Bertans started finding his rhythm early and he saved his highest scoring quarter, for the one that mattered most, the fourth.

1Q: 5 points in 6.5 minutes

2Q: 7 points in 7.5 minutes

3Q: 7 points in 7.5 minutes

4Q: 9 points in 9.5 minutes

Bertans used many ways to display his playmaking skills against the Kings’ defense, including the pull-up shot, pick-and-pop action, driving ability, pick-and-roll action, the spot-up shot, attacking in transition, and scoring off screens.

The two types of actions where most of Bertans’ playmaking skills came from Monday were the pick-and-pop formation, and the spot-up position.

Playmaking out of Pick-and-Pop Action

Here’s a breakdown of the clips from the video with some season data added.

Possession 1: Bertans set a 1-4 Pick-and-Pop (P&P) with Dejounte Murray. Murray passed the ball back to Bertans and he drilled the lightly contested three. This season, Bertans has made 40.8% of his threes from the above the break 3-point area, which is 5.6% above league average from that area.

Possession 2: 1-4 P&P, but Bertans drives in and finds Patty Mills for the open 3-pointer. Once Bertans caught the ball, he quickly scanned the floor to find the best option to pass to. In this instance, it was Mills.

Should Bertans get more minutes this season, you’d like to see if he can expand his playmaking ability in getting his teammates more open shots when he gets run off the line by the defense. According to CleaningTheGlass.com, Bertans has assisted on 7.4% of his teammates made shots, which ranks in the 41st percentile among bigs (4s and 5s) in the NBA. With his three assists Monday, Bertans demonstrated what he can do with a higher usage (16.2%), as he assisted on 15% of his teammates made shots Monday, which would rank him in the 73rd percentile among bigs.

Possession 3: Bertans uses the dribble hand-off into the P&P action, but, when the ball gets back to him, he drives in on the defense and finishes the runner with contact. This season, Bertans has made 6-of-14 shots in the non-restricted area, which is 2% above league average.

Playmaking off Spot-Up Position

Possession 1: Bertans was ready to fire and he made the deep three several feet behind the 3-point line. Bertans often uses the hop shooting motion on his jumper.

Possession 2: This was another time when Bertans kept the ball moving and it ended up in Bryn Forbes’ hands for the open corner three.

Possession 3: Bertans makes another three a few feet behind the line.

Possession 4: With the Kings playing a traditional center and power forward, Bertans understands their first reaction is to protect the paint, so, since he’s the trailer on this possession, he uses the open space to knock down the three.

Possession 5: After the game, Bertans mentioned how he was be able to find some open shots because he knew the Kings would be guarding the Spurs’ frontcourt with more traditional bigs. On this play, knowing Willie Cauley-Stein is guarding him, Bertans springs a curl route from under the paint and creates enough separation to make the open spot-up shot.

Due to the injury situation the Spurs are facing, Bertans has been provided more minutes and he’s making the most of his additional time on the floor. Over the last five games, Bertans is playing 27 minutes per game and averaging 14.2 points, making 53% of his shots and 47% of his threes. He’s also collecting four rebounds and 1.8 assists during this stretch.

One lineup that was productive against the Kings and has been for the whole season is the lineup of Mills, Forbes, Kyle Anderson, Bertans, and LaMarcus Aldridge. According to CTG, in 48 possessions, the Spurs are scoring 145.8 points per 100 possessions and holding teams to 116.7 PP/100. That’s a difference of +29.2 PP/100.

The makeup of that lineup makes sense. It has three spot-up shooters in Bertans, Forbes, and Mills, Anderson as a playmaker in the P&R, or the team can swing the ball to Aldridge in the low block.

Overall, the data supports Bertans’ time on the floor. In 455 minutes on the floor this season, the Spurs are scoring 106.9 PP/100 and holding teams to 100 PP/100, which makes them +6.9 PP/100 with Bertans. In 1561 minutes with Bertans off the floor, the Spurs are scoring 104.8 PP/100 and holding teams to 102 PP/100, which makes them +2.8 PP/100.

With Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay injured, Bertans should continue to see an uptick in his minutes. However, once the entire team is healthy and whole, it’ll be interesting to see if by that time Bertans will have carved out a consistent role for himself.

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