Our Washington Wizards player evaluation series continues with their first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Deni Avdija.
How did Avdija perform last season?
In the 2020-21 NBA season, Avdija averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game in 54 appearances and 32 starts. Avdija was projected to be one of the top prospects in the draft and fell to ninth for Washington. His best individual game was on Jan. 9 when he scored 20 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 5 assists while shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 5-of-9 from the three point line.
Unfortunately, Avdija’s season was cut short when he suffered a hairline ankle fracture on Apr. 21 in a game against the Golden State Warriors.
Avdija showed the potential to be a potential low usage shooter, at least in December, when he averaged 7.2 points and 2.6 assists per game. Based on his shooting chart, while his field goal percentage of 41.7 percent and three point shooting percentage of 31.5 percent aren’t anything to write home about, he did shoot above the league average while facing the basket from three and midrange.
Deni Avdija's shot chart in the 2020-21 NBA season. pic.twitter.com/A3vON0BntZ— Albert Lee (@aleeinthedmv) July 6, 2021
The biggest weakness was that Avdija didn’t play like the playmaking forward he was from his days with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, the team he played for before the NBA. According to Cleaning the Glass, his usage rating was 10.9 percent which ranks in the 11th percentile among all NBA forwards. His point and assist metrics were also among the lowest among forward.
While Avdija’s turnover percentage of 9.3 percent was in the 85th percentile among forwards, that’s largely due to the fact that his usage rating was so low. And why was his usage low? That’s because Avdija played a significant amount, if not the majority of time with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook who had usage ratings of over 30 percent each.
Ultimately, Avdija’s PPA rating last season was a 48, above only Chandler Hutchison and Issac Bonga among active Wizards players. A rating of 45 is that of a replacement-level player, according to our stats guru, Kevin Broom.
I still think that Avdija is poised for a strong sophomore season, with the right coaching staff who would let him handle the ball more. That will help us determine whether these weaknesses are simply due to bad coaching and a lack of touches, or if he truly is overrated as a playmaker.
What’s next for Avdija?
Avdija will make about $4.6 million in the 2021-22 NBA season for his second year. It is very difficult to imagine seeing him elsewhere, and hopefully, the new head coach will allow Avdija to play more toward his strengths, which will also help them win more games. After all, that skill was largely why he was believed to be as high as a Top-5 pick.