The Washington Wizards are almost done reshaping their roster. Despite having intriguing young talents at every position, the roster remains unbalanced. While the logjam at the backcourt continues, there isn’t enough depth at the center position with Daniel Gafford and Mike Muscala being the only traditional big men. This could mean that coach Wes Unseld Jr will have to get creative with his center rotation. One potential option could be trying Deni Avdija as a small-ball center.
An advantage of playing Deni Avdija as a center is the ability to have switchable lineups around him. Neither Gafford nor Muscala is able to get out on the perimeter and guard smaller players. Avdija would give the Wizards a different defensive look.
Another benefit of playing Avdija as the center is on the offensive end. Avdija’s lack of shooting is a problem when he is on the wing next to another non-shooting big like Gafford. However, if Avdija is the weakest shooter in your lineup, that offense is likely to succeed. His passing and playmaking would be a nice addition to the Wizards offense. Being able to use your center as an offensive hub at the top of the key helps unlock your team’s offense.
Obviously, there are a few downsides to having Avdija as your center. He is arguably the best one-on-one defender on the team. By having him close to the rim instead of out on the perimeter, the Wizards would lose a good defender with size and strength in their point-of-attack defense.
Furthermore, Avdija is not an elite rim protector. He is engaged, active, and communicative as a weak defender, but he doesn’t have the wingspan to really bother shots around the rim. His 6’9 wingspan is less-than-ideal for a big man, but he could possibly make up for it with his strength and smart rotations.
Avdija hasn’t spent any minutes at center in the first three seasons of his career. It’s not clear that he would succeed in that role. Yet, the Wizards have nothing to lose by experimenting with different lineups and roles for their players in the 2023-24 season. It would be immensely beneficial for both the Wizards and Deni Avdija if he were to add more positional versatility to his game. It is worth a try.