Knowledge craving Deni Avdija is reminding himself to stay aggressive during Wizards’ stretch run

Mar 1, 2022 | Deni Avdija

Deni Avdija spent his All-Star break in Miami recharging for the Wizards’ final 24 regular-season games as the organization hopes to make a run for the play-in tournament to earn a first-round playoff series at the end of April. Although he could have spent more time in the South Beach sun that Avdija has previously likened to the Israeli climate he enjoys, the 21-year old returned to Washington a couple of days early to prepare. Such a diligent work ethic is nothing new to anyone who has followed Avdija’s career.

“It was short, good time to recharge, have some fun,” Avdija said about his mini vacation. “I came here early, two days, three days before we started practicing just to get my sharpness. Get back in shape little bit. I take it really seriously. Excited for the second half of the season, hopefully, we can do great things and get where we belong.”

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

In the double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Avdija had 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, nine rebounds, two steals, an assist, and a block in 37 minutes of play, second-most this season. Before the contest, the forward spoke about his personal need to remain aggressive, which was on display with drives to the basket against the slower and bigger Jakob Poeltl for a layup and then another drive that led to a kick-out and swing 3-pointer by Corey Kispert once the defense collapsed.

“Just be more aggressive,” Avdija has learned to remind himself, especially with everyone needing to step up without Bradley Beal. “I can look at the game in Brooklyn and say that I started the game 0-for-5. The old Deni would be like alright I’m not going to take as many shots or be as aggressive. It didn’t get into my mind. As a team we felt good out there, I felt good, I felt confident, I felt that I need to be more aggressive and create for others and that’s exactly what I did. We played together, the ball was moving.”

“I’m saying the old Deni because I grow every day,” Avdija explained. “I learn something new every day. In practice, I’m learning every day and I see myself better and better. Me saying the old Deni, I feel good saying that because I know how much I’ve progressed and how much I’ve came along so feels good.”

The next night in Cleveland, not only did Avdija see his streak of six games scoring in double figures end, but he was also scoreless for the first time in nearly three months (December 5), missing all four of his shots, but still contributing five rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 23 minutes. Probably not a lot to read into given the second night of a back-to-back following a double-overtime contest and travel. His head coach is not concerned about the outlier offensive performance.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“I think some of that was fatigue,” Wes Unseld Jr. began to explain why Avdija’s scoring dropped off in the limited sample size of a single game. “Young player, he’s logged probably more minutes than he’s every played in the NBA and were asking him to do a lot. Asking him to defend at a high level, rebound, he’s been a playmaker for us. He’s not going to score double-digits every night. He’s going to have stretches like he’s shown, he may go through some droughts, but as long as he’s playing the right way, I have no issue with that. That level of consistency will find a happy medium.”

The Wizards have a three-game homestand against Detroit, Atlanta, and Indiana before their second and last West Coast road trip the following week.

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