DETROIT — San Antonio Spurs forward Davis Bertans has come a long way since his rookie season.
Coming into the NBA, Bertans was known for his deft shooting touch from beyond the arc. His silky smooth release makes any shot he takes looks like the ball is going to find nothing but net. However, his play this season is showing he's much more than just a 3-point specialist.
“Absolutely, he's not just a 3-point shooter," said Gregg Popovich following the win Monday night at Detroit. "He can drive it, he's finding people after he drives it, which is a big sign of development for him."
In the team's win over the Pistons, Bertans had a career high five assists, proving there are more facets to his game. This season he's posting 3.2 rebounds and is a 49 percent shooter from inside the 3-point line.
According to Cleaning The Glass, Bertans has been evenly distributing his effectiveness on the offensive end of the floor as well. His scoring breaks down as: 57.4 percent from inside the arc, 41.3 percent from the 3-point line and 76 percent at the rim.
When it comes to getting his teammates involved, 8.3 percent of Bertans' passes end up in made shots. His "And 1" percentage is at 36 percent according to Cleaning The Glass.
"It's important that he keeps doing that because it makes him more of a complete player," Popovich said.
Bertans has come a long way since his rookie season when he alternated between San Antonio and the G League Austin Spurs. He paid his dues, learned the team system and the Spurs rewarded him with a new deal this off-season during his free agency.
Now, he's an important piece to the future of the franchise.
Bertans currently ranks among the best 3-point shooters in the league (46.9). In his last three outings, he is averaging 9.2 points and 5.3 assists. Defensively, he is recording 2.0 steals and 7.9 rebounds. This is good for a +22.4 for San Antonio with Bertans on the floor.
That is a huge improvement for any NBA player but for the defensive-minded Popovich, there's still room for improvement for the third-year pro from Latvia.
“That’s been his weakness, and to his credit he’s focused on it," said Popovich about Bertans' defensive growth. "As each week goes by, each five or six games, I think he gets more confident and realizes he actually can do that.
"Once you make something a focus you can probably get better at it. He’s improving.”