Avdija returns to Israel after completing successful year 4 in the NBA

Apr 17, 2024 | Deni Avdija

Year four for Deni Avdija is in the books and boy was it some season for the Israeli forward. With career highs across the board, the 23-year old is in the conversation to earn the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award as he dazzled not only Washington Wizards fans but also aficionados of the game worldwide.

Unfortunately for Avdija and the Wizards, playoff basketball wasn’t in the cards for the third straight season as the club finished dead last in the league with a 15-67 record tied with the Detroit Pistons, however, the Israeli broke out to the delight of many showing that he has plenty top offer on the court of play and off of it as well.

With Avdija’s season over, the Sabra spoke to the media just before he took off for the Holy Land as well as when he returned home to Israel as he discussed his fourth year in the “Greatest League in the World”. However, he began by sending condolences to those who have fallen in the war, that the hostages being held by Hamas return home and that those who are injured get well soon.

Deni Avdija – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I’ve had such a challenging season, it’s exciting to be here but first of all before we start I want to express my condolences to the families of the fallen, call for the return of the hostages along having the wounded get well soon. I’m happy to be here.”

Just as the NBA season was about to begin, the Hamas attack on October 7th took place which obviously created chaos for Israel as well as for Jews around the globe as an emotional roller coaster took place for the star.

“It is not easy to be there in the United States and be close to the news here in Israel all of the time, before and after games, but there is not much to do. At the end of the day. I am a professional athlete and go on the court to represent the country properly and do everything that I can to succeed on a personal level.

“As a professional, you got to know how to disconnect from your personal life when you play the game. There’s a lot of players in the NBA that play through a lot of situations in life. I’m not the first one, I’m not going to be the last one to do it. There’s something about this game, when you step on the court, you kind of disconnect from everything and refocus on the one job is to win. I think that’s the beauty of this sport, that’s the beauty of sports. My heart is back home, but my head got to be in the right place. I feel like I did it, I represented my country and I helped my team on the court.”

Deni Avdija – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Avdija improved many aspects of his play that included bumping his scoring average up to 14.7 points from 9.2 points per game as well as his 3-point shooting percentage from 29.7% to 37.6% , both being huge accomplishments.

“I worked very hard last summer and I’m happy that it’s bringing results and hopefully this is just the beginning. It’s nice to see results, still think I can be even better. I know how much I worked hard on it this summer and how much time I spent on it. I’m not going to stop here, makes me want to work on it more. My plan is to continue working hard as it doesn’t end here, I have a very long way to go in the NBA, I’m glad I got to have a season like this, but the goal is to continue working.”

The Israeli phenom won’t be resting on his laurels as he knows that there is plenty of place to improve even in areas that he has always played well such as defense.

“Personally, I can do better and the team expects me to do better and I’m happy about it. Being a two-way player is a great asset in this league. I can be better off ball, communicate a little bit better. I’ve seen the potential, I know it’s there. I’m satisfied with this season, I feel like I’ve made progress, you work so hard and you see progress, that’s the most important thing. But from a team point of view, we want to win a little more and be competitive and I believe we’ll do just that.”

Deni Avdija – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

The Wizards only won 15 games, with a vast majority of them coming near the end of the season including a huge victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. But it’s clear that the front office has plenty of work to do and a new head coach will need to be appointed after Brian Keefe filled in admirably on an interim basis after Wes Unseld Jr. was relieved of his duties and reassigned within the organization.

“It’s fun to come to work, they’re professional from the staff to the owners to the players. They want to be better, they want to work, they want to make this organization at the top again and obviously the great fan base that is thirsty for success. I think what is going to blossom will really show what this franchise is capable of. I’m excited to see it and it’s closer than it looks, time flies. We will need a coach that shows competitiveness, be able to hold people accountable, play together and play as a team.”

Over the final few months, Avdija was also given the opportunity to play point forward which is something that he did admirably and would also want to continue to do that going forward as well.

“I definitely have the potential to do it. I haven’t been exposed to it a lot. Against Chicago, a good defender that is guarding you the whole game, like Torrey Craig. With being able to handle the ball the whole game, it’s something you got to get used to a little bit, I was a little fatigued. Try to make the right plays, try to get the guys going. I did a pretty good job, if I’m going to have the opportunity, I am going to control what I can control. Handle the ball better, be able to go both ways, being more patient with my decisions.”

Deni Avdija – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

During the season, Avdija inked a long-term extension which will tie the Israeli to the Wizards for a number of years going forward as both player and club would like to see the franchise grow in unison.

“When a franchise believes in you and wants you to stay, wants you to keep playing, it’s the best confidence booster in the world. I’m really happy that I’m staying here and I’m a Wizard for now and I’m excited to compete and take this team to the best situation. In the end I want to win and sometimes in the NBA you have to be patient and know how to build something. I want to continue to progress and I feel that this season I had the opportunity to improve and I feel that there is something to build on.”

As for the off-season, Avdija will look to take some time to relax and recuperate along with working on his game, but to also give back to his native country, I want to go to the ocean, enjoy food, friends and family and of course I will be doing a lot for the community this summer, especially in light of what has happened. I’m back here now and I’m happy to see everyone.”

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