Verdict on Deni Avdija
So is Deni Avdija the answer at small forward?
To me, although the question has been who will start, the bigger question is how you stagger the minutes between Avdija, Troy Brown, and Isaac Bonga, in particular between Avdija and Brown.
Both Brown and Avdija have very similar skill sets that would become rather redundant if playing on the floor together. They both thrive off being secondary ball handlers and can make a lot of plays for their teammates.
The issue with starting Troy Brown, is that we have seen him get more than a few runs with the starters, which has not been great. He did not play terribly, but he does tend to fade when playing with the starting unit. So it seems he is much more comfortable — and impactful –with the second unit, where he can handle the ball a little more and play to his strengths. For those reasons, I give Avdija the nod over Brown.
Now onto Isaac Bonga, who I believe is the best defender the Wizards have. On a team devoid of defensive stoppers, that makes Bonga uniquely valuable. His presence in the starting lineup gives it a distinctly different feel. Otherwise, you’re asking Beal and now Westbrook to carry the load on offense AND defense.
Basically, it comes down to this: Do the Wizards want a defensive-minded presence in Bonga, who will improve a pretty bad starting defense, or Avdija, who makes an already lethal offense even harder to contain?
As long as he continues to work I believe Deni Avdija might be the Wizards’ best small forward option. The defense is already going to be poor regardless, so why not add another dynamic offensive player?
With a number of different options at small forward, each bringing something different to the table, the Wizards could go in a number of directions with their starting lineups. There’s a chance we see a few different iterations before the season is over. But right now, Deni Avdija is their best option for the starting small forward position.