In the first three seasons of his career, Deni Avdija was a defense-first forward whose offense left plenty to be desired. Washington Wizards' no.9 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Avdija has consistently been one of the better defenders on the team. His offensive game, however, lagged due to his inability to shoot threes at a high enough clip and an overall lack of scoring punch. Through the first 18 games of the 2023-24 season, that has changed. Avdija is looking more like a two-way player and that is a huge win for the Washington Wizards.
One of the reasons for the improvement on Avdija's offensive game has been his increased role. In previous seasons, he was playing more off-the-ball, in a spot-up shooter role. His usage rate was low, and he was taking a huge portion of his shots as three-pointers, which is not his calling card.
This season, he has the ball in his hands more. He only takes 27% of his shots as three-pointers, a career-low number. Instead, he is going to the rim more, with a career-high 48% of his attempts coming around the basket, according to Cleaning the Glass data.
This, in turn, caused his efficiency to skyrocket. Once Avdija replaced his low-percentage shots with high-percentage shots, he became a different level of scorer. He is shooting 72% at the rim, 45% from long mid-range, 40% from three, and 81.8% from the free-throw line; all career highs. This means that Avdija is in the midst of the most efficient season of his career by a significant margin. His True Shooting Percentage of 62.2 this season is 9 percentage points higher than his previous career-high.
Avdija is an improved shooter, better finisher through contact, and a more confident, assertive driver this season. He is using his size and strength better to get to his spots, finish in traffic, or get all the way to rim in transition. This should all continue.
What still needs to improve, however, is Avdija's inability to get to the free-throw line. He is going to the line less this year than the last two seasons, despite increasing his offensive usage. When that comes, he will be an even more reliable scorer.
His three-point shooting percentage may decline. It is unlikely that he will continue shooting 40% from three for the rest of the season. Everything else should be rather sustainable. Avdija might never be the primary scoring option in the NBA, but early returns from this season indicate that he could be an efficient secondary scorer. The Washington Wizards should be more than thrilled with that.