Washington Wizards: What is a fair contract extension for Deni Avdija?

Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards makes a no-look dime (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)
Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards makes a no-look dime (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images) /

Now that the 2023-24 calendar year in the NBA is officially underway, the 2020 draft class is up for contract extensions. This includes the Washington Wizards’ 9th-overall pick in the draft, Deni Avdija. The Israeli forward who averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game last season, will be expecting a multi-year contract from the Wizards.

So, what should the Washington Wizards offer the 22-year-old?

Over the last three seasons, Avdija has proven himself to be a capable rotation player. He is a good individual defender, active as a help defender, and plays with a good level of effort and concentration. He may not be an elite defensive stopper right now, but he has good size and strength to be a very good defender for a long time.

Deni Avdija needs to improve his shooting to become a starter-caliber player

The problem for Avdija is on the offensive end. He is not only a low-usage player, but he is also not efficient. The 16% usage rate and 53.5% true shooting are very low numbers for a wing. He has not improved his outside shooting, finishing, or free throw shooting since he came into the league. He is a poor shooter and a scorer.

This makes him a less-than-ideal off-ball player. He is a good driver and a passer, so he is best utilized as an on-ball player. However, he doesn’t have the scoring punch or rim pressure to be a very good on-ball creator either. This limits his ceiling both as an offensive player and an overall talent.

Avdija is still very young, and can certainly improve in a bigger role next season. However, his current career trajectory is as a good bench player. It is hard to become a starter-level forward in this league with as limited of an offensive skill set as Avdija’s. If he is able to bring his 3-point shot to a respectable level, he can become a 3-and-D wing and have a role on any team in the league.

Avdija deserves a contract commensurate with a bench player-level contribution

The Wizards have to pay Avdija for the player he is today and what he reasonably can be for the duration of the contract. With the new collective bargaining agreement, an average starter salary is about to be between $18 million and $20 million. Avdija is certainly going to get less than that.

We can look at the 2019 draft class to see what players of Avdija’s caliber received in contract extensions.

Last season, Nassir Little received a 4-year, $28-million contract from the Portland Trail Blazers, and Brandon Clarke received a 4-year, $50-million contract from the Memphis Grizzlies. These two first-round selections had similar productions to Deni Avdija at the time of their extensions; they had shown they were rotation-level players with an unlikely path to becoming starter-caliber guys.

Considering the rising salary cap, Avdija is likely to get a larger contract than Little. A solid bench player is worth between $10 million and $15 million in the NBA. Deni Avdija is probably somewhere between these numbers.

A deal around the $10 million annually mark would be a team-friendly contract for the Washington Wizards. As you get closer to a $15 million-a-year value, you are risking having a negative contract on your hands going forward, and the Wizards will presumably shy away from doing that.

Avdija is a valuable player, but he has not shown enough so far in his career to warrant a multi-year starting-level salary. If the sides can’t agree on a fair contract extension number, it might make more sense to see how Advija performs this season and take the negotiations to the next offseason.

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