What should Deni Avdija’s new role with the Wizards be?

Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

Following the Rui Hachimura trade, Tommy Sheppard said in an interview that the move was made to clear up space for Deni Avdija. Whether or not that is the case can be debated over for hours, so that can be pushed off for another time.

What’s more important regarding Deni Avdija at the moment is his recent breakout after head coach Wes Unseld Jr did the unthinkable: he put him at his natural position. Now playing power forward, Avdija has seen a huge leap in productivity and has looked much better.

Many things have contributed to his recent success, probably the largest is his ability to outrun most fours in the league. He is blatantly quicker and faster than many of the players that will be charged with the duty to guard him, allowing him to beat them not only in the fastbreak, but also in a halfcourt set as well.

His shooting may be limited, but he is good enough to be considered an ok stretch four, causing many of the players who struggle to keep up with him to step out at least 15-20 feet from the basket to keep him honest.

This has also done a great job of getting Avdija involved in the offense and aggressive, two things he has sorely lacked for most of his career so far. This can be huge for him looking to take the next step.

Playing the four has seen other benefits for the 21-year-old too. He has started corralling missed shots at a much higher rate, both times he has spent significant time at the four he has tallied double digit rebounds.

Playing at the four could allow the Wizards to take advantage of another one of Deni Avdija’s strengths.

One of the major aspects of Deni Avdija’s game that garnered attention ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft was his ability to flat out pass the ball. He can read the floor at a high level that not many players at his position can.

He was always a facilitator and not a catch-and-shoot option before entering the league, why should the Wizards continue to force him to change his playstyle? Instead of standing in the corner waiting for a three-point opportunity to come along, Avdija should be the primary ball handler in the offense alongside the starting unit.

This may seem like a ridiculous take, but it makes sense for the Wizards despite some of the negatives. Mainly that it would seemingly break up the Daniel Gafford and Kristaps Porzingis duo that has been doing so well recently.

While the frontcourt has been playing fantastic basketball on both ends of the floor, the backcourt has had some issues. First, Monte Morris may be a playmaker, but he is not a player that can be the sole distributor on the floor. Second, Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma are both fantastic off ball options, there is even a case to be made that Beal is better off not being a primary ball handler.

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Benching Gafford in favor of playing Deni Avdija in that Draymond Green type role seems like the perfect move to fix both of those issues. His playmaking would allow both Beal and Kuzma to use some of their strengths that are currently going unutilized in the current Wizards offense.

His lack of shooting consistency would largely be covered up with this kind of offensive scheme, especially alongside Monte Morris, Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis. He would also likely get much easier shots at the rim due to this change.

It is important to remember that Avdija has the tendency to be a bit picky with his shot selection. He rarely shot the ball before he was drafted and still only likes to take open looks. This has the possibility to help the Wizards take less contested shots early in games.

On top of all of the benefit that he could bring to the offense in this situation, he is also likely the best defender on the roster at the moment. The only contenders really being Delon Wright and Daniel Gafford, neither of which are as versatile as Deni Avdija.

Even with all of that potential benefit, the Wizards could also play the Porzingis-Gafford duo in every minute that Avdija is on the bench, allowing them to capitalize on the strengths of that duo as well. This doesn’t have to be a one-way street.

If the Washington Wizards decide to start Deni Avdija going forward in a point-forward role, they could see some great benefits to both sides of the basketball. This may just be the key to unlocking the third-year player’s potential.

Next. Making an All-Star case for Kristaps Porzingis. dark