Undeterred by inconsistent playing time, Deni Avdija continues to show flashes despite the Wizards’ losses

Jan 24, 2022 | Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards suffered their worst defeat of the season with the Boston Celtics coasting to a blowout 116-87 win at Capital One Arena that was overrun with fans of the road team pleased by Jayson Tatum’s 51-point performance. The Sunday afternoon game local time allowed some of Deni Avdija’s fans back in Israel to enjoy his bench-high 27 minutes of play at a reasonable hour, unlike last week. Despite the disappointing result for Washington, Avdija played well with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting and seven rebounds.

“I felt bad, I was a part of the game,” Avdija unsurprisingly expressed his disappointment in the loss. “Seeing them go on a run, seeing Jayson Tatum explode for 51. It hurts because I know we can do better, know we’re a better team. I think no player should have nights like this anymore. We should’ve stopped him, we should’ve done things, but this is too late to say that. We’re going to learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward.”

Seemingly back firmly in the rotation, Avdija’s best play of the game came with turning defense into offense. Marcus Smart may argue that there was contact warranting a foul call, but Avdija was yet again able to play sound isolation defense to force a difficult shot. Avdija’s playmaking ability was then immediately on display with an outlet pass that perfectly led Kentavious Caldwell-Pope up the floor for an easy layup opportunity.

“When I go on the court, for me in my head, it doesn’t matter when [in the game],” Avdija gave the politically correct answer on Washington’s inconsistent rotation potentially showcasing different players for the upcoming February 10 trade deadline. “If I have a task, coaches ask me to do something, if I need to do something for the team. Bring energy, play defense, play offense whatever they need, I’ll do it. So sometimes of course minutes comes and goes, but I’m ready at all times. I’m doing what the team needs me to do and doing my job and just playing hard, not thinking about it too much.”

Earlier in the game, almost doing his best Kyle Kuzma impression of grabbing a rebound and immediately attacking the defense in transition, Avdija called his own number with a full head of steam and got to the rim with his much more developed right hand. The 21-year old appeared to catch the Celtics Grant Williams’s knee to his left thigh causing him discomfort and was briefly evaluated by the Wizards medical team before he was able to return to the game.

“I took a knee to the thigh. It’s the kind of injury that’s frustrating because it’s not that bad, you’re not out but it’s annoying. It sits there, but I played through it. I made a 3 with it so maybe I don’t know it was good for me,” Avdija described.

Since his brief one-game stint out of the rotation, Avdija has done some good things with 13 points against Brooklyn as well as nine points, six assists, and five rebounds against Toronto. He would probably much rather have won the last three games that he has played better in, but credit is still due for his ability to stay focused. He is leaning on similar experiences from back with Maccabi, but noted he had the help of friends and family then to help guide him through. He may not have the same support system as readily available in Washington, D.C., but is appreciative of his teammates.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“It means a lot,” Avdija said before the Raptors game about Bradley Beal’s confidence in him. “For a player of his caliber to come and say good things about me, he believes in me. It’s the best thing in the world for a young player like me. Hopefully, I’ll be a big part of this team also in the future and we can do great things together. Means a lot to me. Just going to keep being humble, work hard, and hopefully it will all work out.”

Washington’s eight-game homestand comes to a close on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers that is then followed by a brutal three-game road trip at Memphis, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia in just four nights.

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