Turnover happy Wizards fall to Grizzlies as Deni Avdija’s bright future continues to be preached

Mar 3, 2021 | Deni Avdija

Following a brutal late-game collapse and loss to the Boston Celtics, the Washington Wizards knew the importance of not letting the streak together as they continue to fight out of their 6-17 hole to start the season. The Memphis Grizzlies had other ideas by punishing the Wizards’ defense for miscues on their way to a 125-111 victory. In 26 minutes off the bench, Deni Avdija had 10 points including two three-pointers when the deficit was already too much and seven rebounds.

By halftime, the Wizards had already committed 14 turnovers including seven by Russell Westbrook that the Grizzlies cashed in for 22 points including 14 fast break points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting. By the end of the game, Memphis had 32 points off of 22 Washington turnovers that doomed the home team when they had just an ok night offensively with Bradley Beal (23 points on 8-for-18 shooting and 6 turnovers) the target of all of the Grizzlies’ attention.

“They were real handsy,” Bradley Beal attributed the numerous turnovers. “They were making it tough on us, being in the passing lanes. Super athletic, sometimes we were careless with the ball, I had a few myself. We got to be better getting to spots. Letting guys be able to see you’re open, our spacing was kind of bad tonight. Being strong with the ball, we kind of let them take the game with their defensive energy.”

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

Much has and will likely continue to be made about the role the Wizards are using Deni Avdija in as a non-playmaker. To me, it is understandable that less than 30 games into his NBA career he is not the focal point or even secondary or tertiary option on the court, but I can understand the qualms about the ball not being in his hands more when he does show flashes of his capability. Following the team’s pre-game walkthrough, Scott Brooks had a 1-on-1 conversation with Avdija that he provided some details on. It is not the first time that Brooks has mentioned some players are still working their way back from COVID-19 that may be more applicable to the rookie.

“I like the fact that he competes, I like the fact that he’s going to continue to battle. He played only seven minutes last game, that’s rare. I just said [to him], it’s normal to have some good moments and some tough moments,” Brooks repeated as he has mentioned before. “With the safety protocols, he missed three weeks in the middle of the season. That’s hard to overcome and I just told him I’m proud of him because he’s overcome it and he’s going to get through it and continue to develop and continue to get better as the season goes on. I don’t know if the rookie wall is there, it could be there, but definitely, the safety protocol wall is there for all of our guys. Some guys are taking longer to get out of it than others.”

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

Being patient is easier said than done, but the silver lining continues to be that Avdija has a bright and long NBA future in front of him. Regardless of how anyone perceives the efficiency of his development in his rookie year, there are plenty of invaluable things he is gaining off the court under the tutelage of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.

“Deni’s going to be fine and I love him, his teammates love him,” Brooks continued. “The reason I know that’s a fact is they get on him, Russell and Brad, they push him and if they didn’t think he was good, trust me, I’ve been on teams where the best players don’t say a word to guys that can’t play because they know they’re just wasting words. They know this kid is going to be really good this year and he’s going to be better as the seasons go on in his career. That’s basically what I told him, I like what he’s going through. He’s physically tough, but he’s mentally tough too.”

Washington will close out their first-half schedule by hosting the Los Angeles Clippers that just beat them, 135-116, a week ago.

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