Grading the Wizards' Deni Avdija experiment against the Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards
Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

The Washington Wizards welcomed in the Chicago Bulls on Friday for the team's final home game of the regular season, suffering a 129-127 loss in the last game played at Capital One Arena this year. Washington entered the game handicapped by a lengthy injury report, missing several key contributors.

With Jordan Poole and Tyus Jones sidelined, interim coach Brian Keefe took the opportunity against Chicago to insert Deni Avdija into the rotation as the team's starting point guard. The decision allowed Avdija to show off some of the playmaking ability he has been working to develop this season.

Wizards give Deni Avdija point guard duties against Bulls

The 23-year-old Avdija has taken a significant step forward in his approach to the game this season, improving his across the board. Lately, the former ninth-overall pick has shown his improvement as somebody who can set the table for others, often driving toward the basket and dishing a pass out an open shooter. Over his last eight games, Avdija is averaging five assists per contest, a stark increase over his per-game figure from a year ago.

Standing at 6'9", Avdija is oversized by traditional standards for a point guard. However, his height lends itself to his ability to read the floor and make a smart pass to create offense with his teammates. The strides he has made this season with driving offense as well as outside scoring forces teams to send help when Avdija is left one-on-one, opening up opportunities for him to rack up assists.

Against Chicago, Deni finished the night with eight assists to go along with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Logging nearly 38 minutes on Friday, Avdija led the way for the Wizards in a game that ultimately came down to just a few possessions near closing time. Of his eight assisted baskets, five were converted from beyond the arc, creating a multi-leveled approach that helped the Wizards find success offensively.

Late-season games are the perfect time for experimenting with lineups and rotations, especially in the case of a rebuilding team like the Wizards. Coach Keefe and his staff have done a great job this season improving Avdija's game and filling out his profile as a player. Despite the loss, there was a lot to like while watching Deni go to work as the Wizards starting point guard, which may lead the team to revisit the idea next season.

Grade: B+

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