Dāvis Bertāns fills a need for Hornets. Will he be an option in Charlotte next season?

The final word inquiring about a specific piece of equipment hadn’t fully rolled off the questioner’s tongue and Dāvis Bertāns already knew how to describe what it’s like to play with a facemask.

“Since I don’t dribble the ball so much, it doesn’t really bother me,” the Charlotte Hornets veteran forward said. “The rim is still in the same place it’s been for years.”

Bertāns, dealing with a nasal fracture suffered last month, can apparently still see easily through the mask. Although he wasn’t as hot Wednesday night as he’s been recently, posting just six points in the Hornets’ 115-114 win over Atlanta at State Farm Arena, Bertāns’ contributions since joining the team can’t be discredited.

Acquired from Oklahoma City with Tre Mann and Aleksej Pokuševski in the Feb, 8 deadline deal that sent Gordon Hayward out of town, Bertāns’ has quietly turned out to be a solid addition and the Hornets have taken notice.

In fact, there’s an edict.

“Shoot it,” Brandon Miller said after posting 27 points against the Hawks. “Shoot it every time. Pass it to him — shoot it. I encourage him to shoot it. One of them is going to fall. So, always build up a teammate’s confidence. One thing with him is he’s extremely confident.

“To take unbelievable shots like that — on the dribble, on the run, fading — I think that’s the only thing he works on all day. So, his confidence is definitely key.”

In a matter of a few weeks, Bertāns has become one of coach Steve Clifford’s most trusted reserves. The Hornets even run plays for Bertāns at times to find open looks, attempting to capitalize on his ability to get hot within a moment’s notice and attract defenders out to the 3-point arc.

“He’s a terrific shooter, obviously, but he creates a lot of problems for the defense just with his movement,” Clifford said. “And he never holds the ball. He either shoots it or moves it, which is the play.”

Through 26 games following the trade, Bertāns has recorded 18 games with multiple 3-pointers made off the bench, marking the most in the NBA during that span. He’s also averaged 8.9 points, which is greater than his career average of 6.7 through his initial seven seasons in the league.

With the Hornets besieged by injuries to key figures like LaMelo Ball, Mark Williams, Cody Martin and Seth Curry, it’s given Bertāns and others such as Mann and Pokuševski a chance to show what they can do.

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Atlanta Hawks;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Atlanta Hawks</a> guard <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Garrison Mathews;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Garrison Mathews</a> (25) shoots over Charlotte Hornets forward <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Aleksej Pokusevski;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Aleksej Pokusevski</a> (17) during the first half at State Farm Arena. Dale Zanine/USA TODAY NETWORK

For Bertāns, the transition was rather seamless.

“Since we had a lot of guys come at the same time, it was kind of like a rebuild of a team during the middle of the season,” Bertāns said. “It was real easy in that sense. Guys have been looking for me in the positions that I love to be in shooting-wise and it’s just made it super easy. Just because of that, I’ve been able to get into the paint sometimes or even create for others or get some easy ones in there.”

Perhaps more than anything, these past few weeks have given the Hornets an opportunity to gauge what kind of punch he’d bring to the second unit. As a floor spacer and jump shot specialist, he gives others room to maneuver, which could be a beneficial thing if he’s on the court with the likes of LaMelo Ball next season.

Question is: will he still be around?

Earning $17 million this season, Bertāns has an early termination option for 2024-25 and can become a free agent in July if he elects to forgo the $16 million he can pocket in the final year of his deal. Should Bertāns believe he can get a multi-year pact and secure something more lucrative long-term, he could have a variety of suitors and decide to join a team with legitimate postseason aspirations.

But for what it’s worth, he sounds like he’s enjoyed his time with the Hornets so far. Especially since it’s provided him with more of a chance to hoist up shots in a venue he typically flourished in as a visitor.

“I’ve always loved shooting in (Spectrum Center), so it’s good to have more games (there) than before,” Bertāns said. “And definitely the crowd. Even though the season hasn’t been great winning-wise, the fans have been great and it’s a lot more people in (that) arena than other teams that are not making the playoffs. So, I think a bright future is ahead for the organization.”