For over three years, Danny Avdia’s performances in the NBA felt like roulette. Maybe he’ll score in double digits, maybe he’ll stand in the corner the whole game and settle for a basket or two, maybe he’ll get close to a triple-double and maybe he’ll even stop at 0 points – something that happened 17 times in total.
Every time Avdia looked like the player that Washington and Israel dreamed of – we called it “sparks”. Every big moment of his felt like a small piece of a puzzle that was far from coming together, but there was always hope that one day stability would come and Danny would realize the potential that was always there. We waited, we tried to be patient and now we can say that this day has arrived.
“It’s always darkest before the dawn,” they say, and this sentence is also true for Avdia’s incredible ascent. The low point of the Israeli this season came on December 26 against Orlando, with a night of 2 points on 14% from the field (1 of 7) in 23 minutes, which was his fifth in six games with single digit points. No one is forgiving anymore, because that’s how it is in the fourth season, and that’s when the bowl turned upside down.
Since then, in 23 games (almost a third of the season), Avdia has outstanding averages of 15.3 points on 54.5% from the field and 47.7% from three along with 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. The only two players in the league besides him with these numbers in this time period: Nikola Jokic and Domantas Sabonis.
Avdia’s seasonal averages: 13.0 points on 51.5% from the field, 39.3% of three and 74.7% from the free, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
Deni Avdija is a hooper.
Last 10 games: 16/7/4 on 58/57/72 splits including 69% TS.
Wizards got a steal on that 4/$55M deal. pic.twitter.com/cEonpo1Jdu
— Wizards Film Room (@KevinFolliNBA) February 11, 2024
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As “Wizards Film Room” wrote in the tweet above, Avdia’s contract appears to be a bingo for the Wizards. $55 million for four years is a historic contract in Israeli sports, there is no doubt about that, but in NBA terms it is a contract for a good complementary player. Right now – the 23-year-old forward is playing like a star, potentially worth $20+ million per season.
In a world where Jordan Paul earns $32 million per season – Avdia should get double, but apparently the Washington management has a fixed standard of at least one bad contract. The thought of “How much would Avdia make if he waited until the summer of 2024 and then extended his contract?” It is understandable, but unnecessary. As soon as Danny signed we said here that he did the right thing to clear his head and focus on basketball. This allowed him to improve the mental aspect, and in addition, if he had “bet” on himself, it is likely that he would not have displayed the same ability.
Good for Avdia’s confidence that he is marked as a “theft” – it improves his image in the league, takes the pressure off him to “play like a star” and also allows the club financial flexibility that will improve the squad in the coming years. And at the current rate – the Israeli’s next contract will already reach 100+ million dollars.
Avdia on $13.5m per season, Paul $32m per season (Getty)
The main change this season in general and in the last few weeks in particular, and Avdia also talked about it himself – is that he realized how big and strong he is. For too long Danny’s style of play did not match his dimensions and at a good time this changed. Avdia has been given the token that most NBA players won’t beat him in a physical battle, so he “thinks ring” and looks for the penetration time and time again. The result – a lot more easy baskets/and-ones/dunks. From here the security goes up and then the free threes also come in.
It is easy to recognize the offensive improvement, but what is beautiful is that, at the same time, Avdia returned to being the defensive stopper that he is. Until that game against the Magic, the players Avdia guarded against him scored 49.2% from the field, a statistic that is not so flattering, especially in light of the fact that they took 449 shots against him (only against 15 guards did they shoot more).
A lot is always thrown against Avdia, who in every game is required to make life difficult for the opposing stars, but since the turning point at the end of December, he manages to fulfill his mission on this side of the field. In the last 23 games against Avdia, they are scoring only 42.7% from the field, the second best figure in the NBA among the 41 players who have taken 300+ shots against them in this period of time.
First on the list is his good friend Kristaps Porzingis (41.0% from the field) and behind him some of the top guards in the league – Shea Gilges Alexander, Rudy Gober, Alex Caruso, Derek White and Isaiah Hartenstein.
Avdia impressed more than once when he was assigned as a center and in some formations he can maintain positions 1-5. This special ability, together with the handle that has been reset, the playmaking and the speed for his height make him one of the most intriguing young players that the basketball world has to offer, no less.
The improvement in the attack brought Avdia the stopper back to life (Getty)
Avdia “survived” the trade deadline as expected and in the two games that followed he played a total of 81 minutes and provided two consecutive double doubles with 20+ points, for the first time in his career. Washington realized that the Israeli should (and can) play a lot and lead the attack – because he is its future.
In the two losses to Boston and Philadelphia, in which the Wizards looked like a basketball team – Tyus Jones and Avdia recorded the most touches on the ball, with 157 and 150 respectively. Paul and Kyle Kuzma? Only 105 and 103. It was no coincidence that basketball was more beautiful to the eye. Also on the net it was possible to see more and more Washington fans realizing that Avdia has arrived and that he should be the face of the club (at least until the 2024 draft).
“Danny has shown tremendous growth in recent games, he creates moves and attacks the basket,” said his coach Brian Keefe After the last game, “I trust him to make the decisions on the field.” Avdia has played in all 52 games for the Wizards this season and if Keef knows what’s good for the team’s future, he should continue to average 35+ minutes and lead the offense to his biggest talent on the roster.
We have all heard the phrase “basketball is a simple game” so many times. And it is true. Except the times he isn’t. At the end of the previous game, Avdia said that he plays simply, a feature that sets him apart, especially in a messy team like Washington, but in order to take the next step in his development, he must work on the element of surprise when the ball is in his hands.
What it means? At the moment – most of Avdia’s baskets are predictable, or rather the moves that lead to them. He doesn’t surprise his guards as much as he simply beats them. He gets to his comfortable areas on the floor with a lot of power, a quick first step and proper reading of the game, but we rarely see more sophisticated and “feline” movements that make the defense dizzy.
Beyond the fact that Avdia’s dribbling needs improvement, he must expand his offensive arsenal and polish his “old-school” dribbling style with more and more spins, body tricks, cross-overs, etc. Poetry in motion. Style Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram.
All this will come later. In the meantime, we’ll focus on the fact that we’re talking about the next step in Abadiah’s skill set, because it heralds that the big mental hurdle is behind him. The boy is growing up, he knows what he is worth, even in the NBA they are starting to open their eyes (Kevin Durant after the dunk against Phoenix, for example) and now you can get involved in basketball practice.
At one of the press conferences this season, Avdia explained that stability is what separates the good players from the great players. After the last period – it is safe to say that he is in the right direction.
Successfully passed matriculation (Getty)
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