Deni Avdija’s career performance is just the start for the 23-year-old’s continued potential

Feb 17, 2024 | Deni Avdija

Deni Avdija had the best game of his NBA career in the Washington Wizards final matchup before the annual February All-Star Break. In a game-high 40 minutes, Avdija recorded a career-high 43 points on 13-for-24 shooting from the field, 6-for-10 from 3, and 11-for 13 from the free throw line to go along with a season-high 15 rebounds. The field goal, 3-point, and free throw makes were also all career-highs for the 23-year-old. There is certainly a correlation with Kyle Kuzma sidelined with an illness allowing the ball to be in Avdija’s hands more than usual, but it was a splendid showing for Avdija on Valentine’s Day (and his girlfriend’s birthday) nonetheless.

“He was part of our group that was super resilient. We got down 20 and he helped lead the chard to get us back in the game,” interim head coach Brian Keefe told media in New Orleans about Avdija. “Taking the right shots that the offense gave him. We put the ball in his hands and he was attacking, but then when he was open from 3 he let it go. He read the game well and we put him in positions to take advantage of his quickness and athleticism to the rim, but then when the ball was kicked to him he shot it when he was open.”

Avdija never had back-to-back games with 20 or more points in his NBA career until this past week as he is now on a four-game streak with 20+ points. Such a hot streak is not sustainable, but for the week Avdija has averaged 28.3 points on 61.5 / 50 / 75.9 percent shooting slash to go along with 11.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Avdija is the youngest Wizards player to score 40 or more points since John Wall in 2013 and is the first player in franchise history with at least 43 points and 14 rebounds since Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes in 1977.

“I don’t know if something really changed. I feel like I’m just more confident, working hard, patient. It’s been a long four years for me, ups and downs,” Avdija answered media in New Orleans when asked about the hot four-game stretch. “My teammates been here with me with all this process, it’s been great. They’re pushing me, they’re looking for me. Without them honestly, without their push, I could be in that good of a stretch like I am.”

Regular readers of the Sports Rabbi know how much we have harped on the importance of Avdija getting a full and healthy summer offseason to improve his game going into his fourth NBA season. The dividends are being paid out as we speak with still more to come. Analysts typically estimate an NBA player’s prime not being until their late 20s so there is still plenty of time to continue developing, which the always diligent Avdija is eager for.

“I know my spots now, I’m confident on my shot that I worked hard this summer. I’m in a good mood. Obviously, the franchise believed in me, they signed me for another four years so that was big time for me too. I’m just playing free, I’m playing to compete. I’m not really overthinking too much,” Avdija explained. “It’s young in life, but in this game, you grow up fast. I feel like four years in the league really matures you. But yeah, I’m still young and that’s why I’m so excited, I still have a lot to grow, still have a lot to work on, I’m not stopping here. Yeah, I had a great game tonight, but it’s still a long season and I’m off hopefully having a long career. Hopefully, it’s only the start.”

“Big time, big time,” point guard Tyus Jones described Avdija’s career night. “He’s been playing his tail off the last, I don’t even know how long now. He’s been hooping. The game is slowing down for him. He’s starting to see his spots, he’s starting to understand what defenses are doing a little bit more. He’s playing with a lot of confidence, shooting his shots with confidence, no hesitation, making his moves, making some reads, great passes. Looking forward to continuing to see him grow.”

Deni Avdija – Photo credit: Washington Wizards


Avdija’s first three years in the NBA were anything but smooth coming to a new country during a global pandemic just a month before the season, having a serious injury cut his rookie campaign short with rehab extending up until the next season, relying on painkillers to play through a groin injury to represent his country, and so much more. But now, a corner has been turned as Avdija continues to raise his ceiling as a long-term future of the Washington Wizards.

“It’s a little emotional,” Avdija admitted about his journey to today. “I never thought that coming to the league seeing all those numbers, those big players score those points, being able to be that hot. All the hard work, the times that I was down or didn’t have good games and I was doubting myself a lot of times. I stuck with it. I kept working hard, I kept being patient, I went through a lot. For me, it’s only the start. I feel like I’m still getting better, I’m still getting smarter, especially in crunch time I’m still not satisfied with how I’m playing. Hard work and patience do pay off.”

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