Wizards’ underwhelming start continues, but team remains optimistic as Avdija puts in solid performance

Dec 30, 2020 | Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards continue to underperform early in the 2020-21 season after losing another winnable game. On Tuesday night from Capital One Arena, the Wizards fell to the average, at best, Chicago Bulls, 115-107. For a team that has playoff aspirations, Washington has shown little to indicate they will make it there as they are 0-4 to start the season. A small silver lining comes from another solid performance by rookie Deni Avdija, finishing with 9 points on 3-for-6 shooting, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and five fouls in 26 minutes of play.

“We were overhelping. I think we got beat on some average moves,” Scott Brooks described Washington’s porous defense. “We over-committed because we had to commit and then we gave up open threes. We have to do a better job with that. We allowed them to get out in transition off of our turnovers and there was a stretch in the game where we could not hit a shot.”

Bradley Beal EPA-EFE/Nick Wass

On a night where the Wizards were not shooting the ball well, just 10-for-37 (27 percent) from beyond the arc, it was going to take defense to grind out a victory. Not at all Washington’s specialty so far this season or during the Scott Brooks era in general, the Chicago Bulls put up more than 30 points in three out of the game’s four quarters. Poor three-point defense hurt the Wizards as the Bulls shot 42 percent from deep, +15 points in that category for the road team. Another common struggle for the Wizards thus far has been the turnovers that limit their opportunities offensively and also further compromise their defense as the Bulls cashed in Washington’s 21 miscues for 23 points.

Despite as bad of a start as one could conceive, especially with Rui Hachimura (eye) still sidelined for the near future, the Wizards are portraying that they can still get back on track. That is true, but until proven otherwise, Washington is leaving much to be desired.

Deni Avdija EPA-EFE/Nick Wass

For the Israeli sensation Deni Avdija, the matchup had some personal doings as well. First he was playing against his favorite childhood team in Chicago and second he was able to go toe to toe with the number four pick in the draft, Patrick Williams. It had been thought that the Bulls braintrust was going to select the Sabra but instead went for the Florida State product who went 5-10 good for 12 points on the evening.

In addition, Avdija proved to be a quick learner in the first quarter when point guard Coby White took him to school in the paint, the Israeli came back soon thereafter to defend him perfectly and cause a turnover. A second half bounce pass was also on the docket off a break to Thomas Bryant while Avdija also understood that sometimes it’s just not worth trying to get posterized by Zach Lavine. All in all another solid performance for the 19-year old.

“What we said in the locker room, stays in the locker room,” Davis Bertans began. “The only way we can get out of this is as a team. If we stick together, if we play together, we learn from each other, we help each other that’s basically the only way. Being negative about the four losses isn’t going to help us come back and win games. Being positive and helping each other in a good way, that’s what’s going to help us.”

Davis Bertan EPA-EFE/Nick Wass

Washington will have a re-match against Chicago, again at home, on Thursday as the first leg of a back-to-back to be completed on Friday in Minnesota.

Russell Westbrook EPA-EFE/Nick Wass

“As being a leader, you can’t lead just when things are going well,” Russell Westbrook pinpointed. “You have to lead when things are not going your way. We got a group of guys here that wants to win, that’s trying to do the right things. Part of leadership is being able to figure it out. I’ve always believed in when adversity hits, it’s a true measurement of you are as a man. To have a little adversity early on is ok, stick to your principles, stick to what you know, continue to lead, and stay positive. That’s something that I’m going to emphasize to our guys, to our team, coaching staff that it’s a long season and we’re going to figure it out.”

Bradley Beal EPA-EFE/Nick Wass

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