(January 31, 2023 / JNS) Deni Avdija, an Israeli-born small forward who plays for the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards, was not even born the last time the Wizards defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the latter team’s home arena on Dec. 11, 1999.
The 22-year-old played a major role in the Wizards’ 127-106 victory on Monday in San Antonio. Avdija, the 9th-overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-12 shooting. He also pulled down nine rebounds, to go with an assist, a block and a steal. Eight of his 10 field goals came in the paint, and he shot 3-for-4 from the foul line and 2-for-2 from three-point range.
Avdija combined persistence, precision and deft maneuvering over and around defenders. His complete performance employed traditional layups, finger rolls, floaters and dunks, as he aggressively pursued the basket.
Wes Unseld Jr., the Wizards’ head coach, has liked what he has seen of late from the Israeli hoopster.
“His level of aggression has paid dividends. He is getting to the rim, finishing at a much better clip and going to the free throw line,” he said. “It is allowing him to get some easy points at times. He is figuring it out.”
Monday’s contest marked Avdija’s fourth 20-plus point game in his career, and his second 20-plus point game this season. He has logged at least 10 points and five rebounds in four consecutive games—tied for the longest such streak of his career.
The Wizards, now owners of a season-best six-game winning streak (including five in a row on the road), are achieving a degree of success they have not experienced since Feb. 10 to March 9, 2018.
“The wins have been good for our psyche,” the coach said. “It has given us confidence.”
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