Wes Unseld Jr. wants Deni Avdija to be more decisive in his developing offensive game

Nov 22, 2021 | Deni Avdija

Since the Washington Wizards began the regular season with their best start through 13 games since 1974 (10-3), they have lost three of their last four. The most recent, a 109-103 loss to the Charlotte Hornets handing the Wizards just their second home loss at Capital One Arena this season. Deni Avdija has failed to score in double figures in all four of those games and is shooting just 33 percent from the field over the past week.

Not coincidentally, Washington has struggled offensively the last four games, averaging just 97.5 points per game. Avdija has not developed as quickly on that side of the ball compared to his defense and instead of focusing on any one specific like 3-point shooting percentage or left-hand dribbling, Wes Unseld Jr. simply wants the Israeli to be more decisive. You can certainly see some timidness in Avdija’s game that the team hopes subsides as he continues to feel more confident in asserting himself even though his standing on the totem pole may not even be top five on the roster.

Deni Avdija with Tommy Sheppard (r) and Thomas Nides the US Ambassador to Israel(c) – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“The overlapping theme for me is be decisive,” Unseld responded when asked about a near-term offensive improvement for Avdija. “Whatever it is, don’t turn down good shots, don’t overthink it. Catch and go, he’s very good off the bounce and I think sometimes he’s a little hesitant and that turns into bad possessions. If you want to drive it, drive it. If you want to make a play, make a play, but don’t overthink the game.”

On Avdija’s sole three-point make coming from the corner against the Hornets, there was not much hesitation in his catch-and-shoot release. On the very next possession, he again let it fly from deep, but there was a noticeable delay before he rose up and eventually missed the shot. Even on his only other bucket of the game, he could have gone up immediately against Kelly Oubre Jr. in the paint, but never the less was able to craftily finish with the reverse layup.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“Some of it is he’s not accustomed to doing it as much over the past couple years,” Unseld elaborated. “He played that way overseas, didn’t necessarily have those opportunities last year. So getting back to doing more of it now might feel a little bit different.”

On the other side of the court, Avdija continues to play strong 1-on-1 defense in isolation situations despite being tasked with difficult assignments. The highlight for the 20-year old on Monday night came when he stood his ground against Gordon Hayward who tried to use an illegal chicken wing maneuver to get around Avdija. The second-year player stayed on his feet without falling for any of Hayward’s baits to get open and Avdija was able to block the former All-Star’s shot out of bounds late in the shot clock. Becoming an instant favorite among his teammates and fans, Avdija threw up the X after the stop to let everyone know he had put the clamps on. From the bench on the opposite side of the court, Kyle Kuzma and Thomas Bryant affectionately threw up the X as well.

The Wizards will hope to get back on track with what will be their longest road trip of the season so far, a four-game stretch at New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and San Antonio. Away from their families for Thanksgiving, Washington will have time for more team bonding opportunities that were preached as essential early in the season to build camaraderie.

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