Deni Avdija’s chaotic and condensed rookie season has been well documented so now it is time to turn the page and look to his future. Currently, in a walking boot and not weight-bearing with a right fibular hairline fracture that has the 20-year old on crutches, Avdija is expected to make a full recovery in July. That will mean the Israeli native should be completely healthy and ready to start his first full NBA training camp on Day 1 of the 2021-22 season that should witness a big step in Avdija’s game.
Without a doubt, Avdija’s unfortunate landing and subsequent injury is a setback because he is missing out on valuable NBA minutes as well as part of his offseason where he will look to add more to his game. Washington is using this time off the court where there is a lot for Avdija to already reflect and chew on after a 54 game rookie season. Assistant coach David Adkins who has worked closest to Avdija on the Wizards staff continues to watch game film with the wing before home games. Naturally craving to feel the ball in his hands, Avdija will still launch shots from his chair and knows you still have to leave on a make no matter how difficult.
Deni Avdija tried this shot for over 8 minutes but finally got one to fall. He is wearing a walking boot on his right leg and on crutches after suffering a fibular hairline fracture last week.
He continues to watch film with David Adkins as he craves to get better everyday. pic.twitter.com/1iehRJ0hvU
— Neil Dalal (@NeilDalal96) April 28, 2021
“We’re going to keep him engaged,” Scott Brooks said about Avdija while he is rehabbing. “We’re going to still watch film with him. We’re still going to talk about the game with him. You have a lot of things that you can learn as a player that doesn’t always have to be on the court. You get better in all areas of the game. That’s with film study, talking with your teammates, watching the games.”
The most glaring improvement Avdija will need to take his NBA game to the next level for years to come will be an improved 3-point shot. In his rookie season, Avdija shot just 31.5 percent from beyond the arc and was an even colder 25 percent over his last 23 games. As long as Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are on the team with the ball in their hands, 3-point shooting is going to be the best way Avdija can complement the team offensively. The Wizards have seemingly successfully started tweaking Rui Hachimura’s shot for more arc last offseason and even refined veteran Ish Smith’s self-described “janky” shot while he was sidelined with a leg injury that forced him to shoot while seated that could be a process Avdija can start now to maximize his time.
“Last year from the beginning until the end of the season, he developed greatly in shooting, but now we go half-meter backward so it’s not like a walk in the park. I say six to eight, nine more months until he feels like this is the free-throw line, this NBA three-point line,” former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Veljko Perovic accurately predicted for Avdija in December.
Barring a major first-round playoff series upset, Scott Brooks is unlikely to be the Wizards head coach next season and a more innovative offensive mind will look to unlock more of Deni Avdija’s playmaking abilities in his second season. That coupled with seeing the game slow down instead of coming at a 19-year rookie from a different country faster than 100 miles per hour should lead to plenty of highlights beyond the several flashes we already saw this season.
“The experience comes, the game slows down. As the season goes on the speed of the game goes down a little bit and you get into an NBA rhythm,” Brooks explained about Avdija going into next season.
Don’t expect All-Star level play from Deni Avdija in Year 2, but there should be a plenty noticeable leap as the multi-tool forward starts becoming even more acclimated in the NBA that he should have a long career in.