Deni Avdija and Wizards have strong showings on Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day in win over Kings

Apr 15, 2021 | Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards offense is full of firepower when they are healthy and that was on full display on Wednesday against the worst defensive rating team in the NBA in the Sacramento Kings. Dropping 42 points in the first quarter alone, Washington led for all but 16 seconds on their way to a 123-111 victory. On Israel Independence Day, Deni Avdija had a good game with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and four rebounds in 31 minutes.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

Despite a season-worst 26 turnovers that the Kings turned into a whopping 38 points to keep the game interesting, the Wizards were scoring at ease when able to get a shot attempt up with 52 percent shooting from the field. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook combined for 56 points on efficient enough 22-for-44 shooting. Winning the rebounding battle 63-40 took enough pressure off Washington’s defense to improve to 21-33, just one game back of the 10-seed Chicago Bulls for the last spot in the play-in tournament. After losing to the Kings at home last month on a De’Aaron Fox game-winner, Beal felt like the Wizards “owed this team.”

Rebounding from a scoreless showing in under 10 minutes in Utah, Deni Avdija bounced back with a strong performance and showed off his ability to move without the ball. Unsurprisingly, Avdija is not going to have the ball in his hands often playing alongside Beal and Westbrook, but his development in timing his cuts got him easy looks at the basket on multiple occasions against the Kings.

“Beginning of the season I was kind of passive,” Avdija reflected on his developing off-ball movement. “I was telling myself to just be more active. Helping my teammates, be there to help Russ when he gets trapped, be there when Brad is penetrating and a lot of guys are on him. So for me to move without the ball helps also my teammates to release pressure and make the defense worry about me. Just trying to stay active, get the ball, and be more efficient.”

After dealing with foul trouble against the Jazz, Avdija said that Westbrook gave him some tips on how to avoid that before the Kings game. Westbrook’s impact on Avdija has not reaped Rui Hachimura level benefit and improvement quite yet, but it is certainly forming a strong foundation for the 20-year old rookie to grow immensely from.

“It’s a process, my job is to make sure good or bad I encourage as much as I can and try and teach him things I know about the game to help him better his game,” Westbrook said.

The Wizards return from their six-game road trip with a four-game homestand starting on Friday vs. the New Orleans Pelicans and ends with fans in the stands on Wednesday vs. the Golden State Warriors. The Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder will also visit Capital One Arena over the next week.

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