Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija was dropping dimes in win over Detroit Pistons

Washington Wizards Deni Avdija. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Deni Avdija. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

There was a lot to be happy about when the Washington Wizards beat the worst team in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal recorded his fourth consecutive 30-point game; Russell Westbrook extended his triple-double streak to seven games; Daniel Gafford was the first Wizard with consecutive four-block games since 2013. But if the Wizards want to make some noise in the play-in tournament and eventually the playoffs, they’ll need contributions from other places besides their brilliant backcourt. They’ll need good play from rotation guys like Deni Avdija, and the rookie showed what he can do with the ball in his hands during the team’s 121-100 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Deni Avdija shows off his playmaking ability in Washington Wizards’ win over Detroit Pistons.

Deni Avdija wasn’t the best player on the floor last night. Judging by the box score, his game was fairly pedestrian: three points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. But he did finish with the second-best plus/minus of the game (+20) behind only Bradley Beal. And he made some impactful plays despite not filling up the stat sheet, including the most memorable play of the game when he connected with Russell Westbrook on an alley-oop.

Avdija also gave Wizards fans a glimpse into what could be a far more common sight in a few years — a fast-break assist to Rui Hachimura. We don’t see these two leading the break too often (although they hooked up in the win over New Orleans, too), but the two lottery picks could be doing a lot more of this in a few years once Beal and Westbrook hand over the keys.

Avdija hasn’t had a single game with more than five assists this season, and these were his only two in the win over Detroit. Through the first 52 games of his NBA career, Avdija is only averaging 1.2 assists per game. But despite the low numbers, Avdija often looks most comfortable when creating for his teammates and has his fair share of highlight-worthy assists this season.

When Avdija shares the court with Westbrook and Beal, two players with usage rates currently over 31 percent, there aren’t many opportunities for him to create. Maybe that’s why his playmaking seems to jump out when he’s running the break because steals and defensive rebounds are the only times he gets his hands on the ball with the chance to really do anything.

Next. Russell Westbrook is willing the Wizards into the play-in tournament. dark

When he is given some freedom, Avdija is a willing and smart passer and can add another dimension to the offense if given a bit of a longer leash. Beal and Westbrook are brilliant, but the offense can often get predictable when the two guards dominate everything. A new wrinkle wouldn’t hurt.