There are all sorts of stats and metrics that illustrate how impressive Davis Bertans was this season -- did you know he shot an absurd 18-of-26 from 30-plus feet? -- but none of them capture the full experience. The 6-foot-10 Washington Wizards forward darted around screens like Steph Curry, inspiring awe with some of the more ridiculous shot attempts you'll ever see and joy from his teammates when he made them.
Bertans wisely opted out of the Orlando restart, so his career year is officially over. He averaged 15.4 points on 42.4 percent shooting from 3-point range -- good for seventh in the league -- got invited to the 3-point contest and earned himself what will be the biggest payday of his life in free agency this fall.
When the San Antonio Spurs traded Bertans to the Washington Wizards last summer, there was no indication he was going to turn into a must-watch League Pass guy, a rare feat for a non-star. San Antonio dumped him to create space to sign Marcus Morris, only for Morris to back out of the deal and sign with the New York Knicks. In Bertans' third game with the Wizards, he visited the Spurs and showed them what they were missing, dropping 23 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, including five 3s.
Bertans could always shoot, but Washington gave him a bigger role and the ultimate green light. There were few sensations this season like Bertans heating up. It wouldn't even always last the whole game, sometimes just a quarter or two, maybe only a few minutes. Like a heavyweight prizefight, a game featuring the lowly Wizards could hold your attention when Bertans was on the court because you didn't want to miss the moment when the action picked up.
It was better when it happened on the road. You could hear the murmur of the crowd growing louder with each make, the opposing team's announcers left chuckling at his audacity -- the sheer confidence he had in himself to let it fly, distance and defense be damned.
But it wasn't just the makes, impressive as they were. It was the way he moved, sometimes floating, sometimes sprinting, always keenly aware of his spatial surroundings. And always ready to shoot. His hands poised at his chest, ready to rise up into his shot with perfect form the second he caught the ball.
Opponents updated their scouting reports. The process of getting a shot off became a game within a game, and Bertans almost always won. In retrospect, it seems ridiculous that he was ever relegated to spot-up shooting. No one with his ability should be limited like that.
Bertans even took his artistry off the floor, delivering one of the most outrageous quotes of the season after going for 21 points in a 138-132 win over the Spurs in late November.
"We're scoring 140 points every game and mostly losing, which is ridiculous," Bertans said. "We don't even have to play great defense or good defense. We just have to play a little bit below average."
There is a science to the success of Davis Bertans -- if you have an elite shooter, it's worth testing whether or not he can make increasingly difficult shots -- but the appeal of watching him play is all about art. In Bertans, there is skill and creativity, confidence and constant motion. This is a man pushing the boundaries of what basketball can look like. This is a man making the best of a new situation and creating a name for himself.
Bertans' season was equal parts bewildering and captivating. It was unique, and it made a 24-40 team compelling. It was everything basketball is supposed to be.