Could Deni Avdija be an early candidate for Most Improved Player?

Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards handles the rock against the New York Knicks (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)
Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards handles the rock against the New York Knicks (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images) /

Early in his career, Deni Avdija has been… let’s just say underwhelming. However, with a new front office, assistant coaching crew, and potentially roster around him, he could be set to take a huge step forward next season for the Washington Wizards.

The first step to self-improvement is always recognizing what the issue is. Avdija proved that he knows where he needs to improve on the court, stating that he plans to work on his outside jumper and his ability to handle the ball with his weak hand.

He is coming off of a year where he showed clear development as a scorer and a rebounder. While his lows remained the same, Avdija provided great games far more frequently than he has before. He showed far more flashes of stardom in his third season as he reached career highs nearly across the board.

For the season, he averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. This was clearly the best season of his young career, with clear room for improvement.

What is the next step for Deni Avdija’s development on the Wizards?

The obvious answer here is what he has already said before. His three-point shot and ability with his left hand are far from where they need to be if he is to take the next step that he is capable of taking.

For his career, he shoots 31% from beyond the arc. However, this past year he only shot 29.7% from three-point range. This is the opposite direction of where he needs to be going. He did improve as the season wore on, but still only shot 30.6% from deep following the All-Star break.

If he can improve his three-point jump shot even to just 35%, it would open up every other aspect of his game. Adding the ability to make defenders pay for forcing him left would just make him even more dangerous.

These two abilities would not only lead to more scoring opportunities for the 22-year-old, but they would also help create playmaking opportunities. Being able to get to the rim and make tough shots forces the defense to collapse, opening up teammates in the corner for a shot or an extra pass to a better look.

Avdija is already a gifted passer, he just lacks the tools to leverage that gift into something that he can use consistently. Just having a semi-consistent jump shot and the ability to drive to his left will give him the tools he needs to create these opportunities.

Adding a great playmaker and defender like Anthony Black or Cason Wallace to the backcourt would just make things easier for the young forward. He would be spoon-fed easy looks much more often with one of those two on the floor, raising his ceiling even higher.

If Deni Avdija is able to make these improvements, he will no doubt be involved in the Most Improved Player race next season while also being a huge contributor for the Wizards in a potential playoff push.

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