The start of the 2023-24 season for the Washington Wizards has left a lot to be desired as they were on a four-game losing streak that has not been all that competitive. That said, there is arguably no storyline more promising for the organization than the early season returns of development for Deni Avdija in his fourth year in the NBA. With his first full and healthy offseason under his belt that helped earn him a $55 million contract extension by impressing the new front office with his diligence, Avdija is playing with confidence on the offensive side of the ball in addition to his continued strong defensive effort.
“Defense is my bread and butter, I’m always going to be there,” Avdija passionately replied last week. “It’s always going to be part of myself, my game. I’m capable of creating for my teammates, capable of taking important shots, that’s what I aim for. I want to evolve my game, I think I have the capability to do that and it’s just a matter of time. For now, I’m sticking to my role and mastering my role, dominating the simple, and then I’m going to take it from there.”
It is still a small sample size through seven games, but Avdija is averaging 13 points on 53 percent shooting from the field including 8-for-17 from beyond the arc in addition to 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and a steal per game in just 24.7 minutes. Still just 22 until January, Avdija dropped 22 points (4th most in his NBA career) on the road last week in Atlanta on efficient 10-for-16 shooting to go along with five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block in under 24 minutes. Much of the scoring came in the fourth quarter when the game’s outcome was largely known, but the Hawks were still playing more rotational players than the Wizards.
“Definitely pays off. It’s still early to say, but everybody I worked with this summer did a great job,” Avdija told reporters in Atlanta about the dividends now being reaped. “I feel confident, I feel like it takes me some time to get in a rhythm, but once I get a rhythm I feel like the work is there. I feel strong, I feel like my shot is good, confident. It’s just the start of the season, when I catch rhythm as the season goes by, I’m going to be more consistent.”
Deni Avdija's 4th quarter vs. Hawks
7 minutes (+17)
Couple of pretty step back moves to create space for mid-range jumpers 👀 pic.twitter.com/CxBR5Am4l2
— Neil Dalal (@NeilDalal96) November 2, 2023
The ball is not always going to be in Avdija’s hands, especially when the starting lineup is on the floor, because Kyle Kuzma, Jordan Poole, and Tyus Jones are the primary facilitators. Regardless, it is clear as day that Avdija is more aggressively attacking the hoop which nicely complements his improved deep shooting form. Despite grimacing through an ankle sprain suffered in Miami last Friday when stepping on an opponent’s foot, Avdija has held up his end of the bargain with his foot on the gas pedal.
Deni Avdija vs. 76ers
28 minutes pic.twitter.com/CjYFYjpeoQ
— Neil Dalal (@NeilDalal96) November 7, 2023
“I think he’s played really well,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. began on his starting small forward on Monday in Philadelphia. “He’s been assertive, aggressive, we’ve seen him with an uptick in his efficiency. He’s playing with a level of confidence, which is something we really looked at, encouraged him all summer.”
Looking ahead, Washington has another game against the Charlotte Hornets this time at home on Friday before a back-to-back day road trip to Brooklyn and Toronto.