Deni Avdija will look to show Turbo is recharged for the Wizards post All-Star break

Feb 21, 2023 | Deni Avdija | 1 comment

NBA All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah this year marks the unofficial halfway point of the 2022-23 season even though it comes well past the midway point of the regular season (41 games). The Washington Wizards did not have any representatives in the festivities, but they went into the break feeling good about themselves following a 20-point comeback in Minnesota and having won 17 of their last 27 games. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. told his players after the thrilling win over the Timberwolves on Thursday to take some time to recharge during the days off because it is a downhill sprint the remaining 24 regular season games as the Wizards look to return to the playoffs beyond just the play-in tournament.

Deni Avdija spent his mid-season break again in Miami, a city whose weather remains him of Israel’s, as he has done earlier in his career. In typical Avdija fashion, he still stayed in the gym to keep his skills sharp and continue to grow as he has throughout Year 3 in the NBA. Wizards player development trainer Joe Ajike who also spent time with Avdija in Israel last summer as well as renowned trainer Drew Hanlen who Avdija spent a couple weeks in Los Angeles with earlier this past summer worked with the 22-year old.

In 12 games since Rui Hachimura was traded, a transaction that general manager Tommy Sheppard spun as getting Avdija more minutes, the Israeli forward is averaging 13.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals in 28.2 minutes per game. Avdija cooled off from his initial hot 9 game stretch averaging 15.3 points on 51 / 41 / 73 percent shooting slash as he finished the last 3 games before All-Star break with just 19 total points on 7-for-22 shooting from the field including 1-for-8 from 3.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

Turbo is not going to be able to show up every night especially when the officials continue to serve him the short end of calls, which was on display in each of the most recent contests on the 3-game road trip in Golden State, Portland, and Minnesota. Being on a rookie scale contract, Avdija does not want to lose any money for criticizing the referees to the media, but his feelings are well known. For Avdija the key to contributing the rest of the season as Turbo more times than not will be staying confident as well as having a short term memory when things are not going well whether it be his shooting or officiating calls.

Washington has more than enough offense when their top trio of Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma are healthy so it makes sense that defense has always been the biggest key to sustained success. The Wizards view Avdija as their second best defender after Delon Wright and often task him with the hardest defensive assignment from the opposing team, but that does not always lead to consistent minutes. Corey Kispert and Kendrick Nunn eat into late game minutes for Avdija when Wes Unseld Jr. opts for 3-point shooting to complement the rest of the lineup. If Avdija can keep defenses honest enough on the perimeter and consistently rebound as he has for a team that has struggled in that department, then he deserves to consistently see 30+ minutes of playing time per game.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

The currently No. 9 Wizards (28-30) first 9 games following the All-Star break starts on Friday and features 3 games against the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks, 2 games against the No. 6 New York Knicks, and 2 games against the No. 10 Toronto Raptors that will certainly prove impactful in play-in seeding. Buckle up because we are less than two months away from the NBA playoffs where the Wizards strive to return to even though it will mean their 2023 first round draft pick will convey to New York as a delayed payment from the Russell Westbrook trade back in 2020. Avdija’s possible contract extension negotiations this summer will certainly be swayed by his play the rest of the season.

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1 Comment

  1. moses

    What’s he looking for in an extension? What could the Wizards offer him (assuming they want him)?

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