With the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards selected Israel’s Deni Avdija, the first Israeli born player to be drafted in the lottery. The 19-year-old forward has been a professional in Israel since the age of 16, so while he young, he does have some experience.
While in Israel, the 6-9 Avdija played small forward, but he has shown the ability to handle the ball, and some believe he could be a point forward at the NBA level. And when it’s all said, Avdija hopes to work hard and maximize his talents.
When asked what his goals are in the NBA, Avdija said the following.
“First of all, to bring my work ethic from back here. Just keep improving every day, be a better player every day, help the team as much as I can. At the end of my career to look at it and say I was the best Deni Avdija I could be, and I don’t regret anything. It’s a great journey ahead of me, and I’m super excited.”
Avdija’s father, Zufer, played professionally in Serbia and Israel in the 1980s, and according to Avdija, he has learned a lot from his father.
“It was great. It was great to have another competitive spirit in the house,” Avdija said. “He was a great player himself, so he had a lot of good things to teach me and teach me how to act on the court, some small tricks maybe in my game that I use that he used, and just how to be a professional, how to work hard, how to have good work ethic, and just always be competitive and just play to win. That was big for me.”
Next season, the Wizards are expected to have their dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal back together, which will help immensely. According to Avdija, the Wizards have a talented team.
“I think it’s very talented,” Avdija said. “I’m ready to meet everybody and get straight to work. Hopefully, we can grind and have a good season. I’m just going to bring the best for the team, and hopefully, we can win as many games as we can.”
Don’t expect Avdija to come into the NBA and contribute right away. He’s a young player, so it will take time for him to develop. In the end, this pick was not about today; it’s about tomorrow.
The Wizards were dealt a severe blow to their playoff hopes on Tuesday. The team announced that their leading scorer Bradley Beal is out for the season and will not travel to Orlando for the NBA restart.
According to the team, Beal is dealing with a right rotator cuff(shoulder)injury. The 27-year-old Beal had a tremendous season for the Wizards. Beal averaged 30.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. The seven-year veteran had 21 straight games of 25 points or more, the second-longest NBA streak in 10 years.
With no Beal and Davis Bertans(opted out), the team’s top two leading scorers, making the playoffs is nearly impossible for Washington. However, without Beal in the lineup, the Wizards are 4-3, so they had some success without him, which GM Tommy Sheppard discussed on Tuesday.
“You’re never better without Bradley Beal, never,” Sheppard said during a video conference call with the media. “We had to play without Bradley this year, and we had some success. These guys stepped up.”
Keeping Beal on the sidelines is not a bad idea. No one expected the Wizards to do much this season without John Wall, so getting the Orlando invite was a considerable accomplishment. Now, they get a chance to let their young guys play in some meaningful games, as the Wizards have an outside chance of making the playoffs.
“The way you develop players is let them get out there and play, and Bradley’s(Beal) minutes were heavy, but they were down,” Sheppard said. “Our plan was in Orlando, certainly, we wanted to see these young kids get an opportunity to play, and that will continue to be the focus.”
This season was about development for the Wizards. Without Beal, guys like rookie Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and Troy Brown Jr. will have bigger roles, which will help their development, and while you would like to win now, the best thing for this franchise is continuing to grow their young talent.
When the NBA returns in late July, the Washington Wizards will be without one of their best shooters and could be without their best player. Davis Bertans, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, has decided not to play when the NBA restarts in Orlando, and at this point, Bradley Beal is unsure if he is going to play.
“I am still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing,” Beal said via a video call with the media on Wednesday. “It is more or less a decision that will come down to the medical staff and coming back from zero to 100, and then I have some nagging stuff from the end of the year that we are trying to clean up, too. We are looking at it from all angles. I am definitely working out every single day here. It is good to be back in the facility.
“I am not swayed one way or another.”
Beal also revealed that he talked to Bertans before the third-year player made the decision to opt out public.
“I didn’t feel any type of way about Bertans’ decision,” Beal said. “He actually contacted me before he officially announced it… He explained it and just seeing where he comes from, seeing his situation, and understanding what’s at stake for him and his future. I 100 percent understand it.”
The 27-year-old Bertans, who in 54 games averaged 15.4 ppg this season, has an opportunity to make a lot of money in free agency. He has the size(6-10) and is a knockdown three-point shooter(42% from three-point land), so his decision to skip Orlando is understandable.
Currently, the Wizards(9th seed) are 5 1/2 games behind the Orlando Magic for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference (Currently, the Orlando Magic) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9.
Therefore, Washington must make up some ground if they want to compete in the play-in tournament.
It was a tall order for the Wizards to make the playoffs with Beal and Bertans. However, it’s probably impossible for Washington to qualify for the playoffs without them.
With Beal(30.5 ppg), who is having a big-time year, they have a fighters’ chance. It should be interesting to see what Beal decides, but if Washington wants to make a run at the playoffs, they need Beal out there in Orlando.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Washington Wizards(23-40) took an eight-point lead(83-75) against the Miami Heat(41-23) on Sunday. At that time, with Jimmy Butler sidelined with a foot injury(left the game in the third quarter), it appeared that Washington had a decent shot of winning the game.
However, behind the shooting of Duncan Robinson(23 points, 7-11 from three-point land), Kendrick Nunn(18 points), and the all-around play of Bam Adebayo(27 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists), the Heat were able to overcome the loss of Butler and defeat the Wizards 100-89 at Capital One Arena.
With the victory, Miami captures its first road victory since February 1(defeated Magic in Orlando), and the Wizards continue to fall in the standings.
Washington struggled shooting the ball in the fourth quarter, including the second-leading scorer in the NBA, Bradley Beal(23 points), who was 0-9 from the field in the fourth quarter. According to Beal, the offense got stagnant, and Miami’s defense got the job done.
“We just got stagnant. We’ve got to keep moving. I feel like, a lot of times, we were just kind of just watching me. We can’t get caught up in doing that,” Beal said. “They took away all my drives, everything pretty much toward the paint. They wanted to kind of force me to shoot jumpers all night.”
Washington’s playoffs hopes continue to fade. The Wizards are now 5.5 games behind the Magic for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with only 19 games to play,
On a positive note, Scott Brooks has this team competing on a nightly basis, which is a credit to him and the players, and while they are not winning consistently, this team is fighting. Hopefully, that continues the rest of the way.
The Wizards(22-39) four-game west coast road trip is over, and it ended on a sour note. Washington was blown out by the Trail Blazers 125-104 on Wednesday night.
With the loss, the Wizards end the trip at 1-3 and remain 4.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We had an opportunity to be at least 3-1,” Wizards G Bradley Beal said after scoring a game-high 29 points against Portland. “We kind of laid an egg; we got three at home we gotta get.”
Washington starts their three-game homestand on Friday against the Hawks, which is a very winnable game for this team. Then, they host the Heat on Sunday, and the Knicks on Tuesday.
After the three-game homestand, the next four won’t be easy. The Wizards will have to face the Celtics on the road, come home to OKC, go to Philly to battle the 76ers, and travel to Brooklyn to face the 7th-seeded Nets, which could have huge playoff implications for Washington.
Even with a disappointing road trip, Washington is still in the mix for the playoffs, but with 21 games left, time is not on their side, so they must string together a few wins if they have any hope of making the playoffs.
Bradley Beal is doing everything in his power to get the Washington Wizards to the playoffs, and last night against the Warriors, Beal was flowing. He scored 34 points, including 7-9 from downtown, as the Wizards defeated Golden State on the road 124-110.
With his 34-point outing, Beal broke a 58-year team record by scoring 25+ points for an 18th straight game.
“It was him. It was God playing. It wasn’t me. I don’t know who that guy was tonight,” Beal jokingly said after the game.
During this streak, Beal is averaging 36.4 points per game, but unfortunately, when Beal scores a bunch of points, the Wizards usually lose. This season Washington is 1-9 when Beal scores 40 or more points. According to Beal, the points are fine, but it’s all about winning.
“Honestly, I could care less about how I’m playing as long as we’re winning, because my career highs and those good games, what is the record? We’re 1-9 when I score 40 or something. That’s terrible,” Beal said. “I’m not happy about that. I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Oh yeah, but I scored 40.’ No, we’ve got to win, and that’s what I’m about.”
Beal, who should have been an All-Star, is keeping the Wizards alive in the playoff race. At this point, Washington is four games behind the Nets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Washington continues their four-game road trip when they battle the Kings on Tuesday, and if they want to string together some wins, Washington will need Beal to continue to make things happen.
Coming into this season, no one expected the Washington Wizards to have a shot at the playoffs, especially without their star PG John Wall, who is expected to miss the season after tearing his Achilles last year.
However, after defeating the 7th seeded Brooklyn Nets 113-107 on Saturday night at Capital One Arena, the Wizards(17-31) are 3.5 games out of the 8th and final spot(held by the Magic) for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, and four games behind the Nets in the standings.
Bradley Beal, who scored a game-high 34 points for the Wizards against Brooklyn, has been watching the standings, and he thinks his team can make the playoffs in the East.
“I love our chances(to make playoffs),” Beal said after the game.
Wizards Center Thomas Bryant agrees.
“I feel like we have a chance to compete for 8th,” Bryant said after notching a double-double(17 points, 10 rebounds) against the Nets on Saturday. “If we keep doing what we’re doing like we did today, we’ll be in a good spot.”
The Wizards have struggled with injuries this season. Bryant, Beal, Jordan McRae, and Rui Hachimura have all missed extended time with injuries, but the team is getting healthy, and like Bryant, backup point guard Ish Smith also believes this team can make a playoff run.
“We had a lot of injuries,” Smith said. “Then, we won some games when guys have been out, so guys have gained confidence through that. Now that we are getting everybody back, we’re finding a rhythm; we’re finding a flow.”
The Wizards can make a run for the playoffs. The back end of the Eastern Conference is not very strong, and Washington can score the basketball with no problem, and currently, they rank fourth in the league in points per game(115.6), but they have to pick things up defensively, where they rank last in the NBA in points allowed per contest(121.0).
They have 34 games left, so if Washington wants to make the playoffs, the time is now for this team to make a run.
Wizards G Bradley Beal is flowing right now. On Sunday night against the Hawks, Beal dropped 40 points in a losing effort, and last night in Milwaukee, Beal scored a season-high 47 points, but just like on Sunday night, it was in a losing effort, as the Wizards lost on the road to the Bucks 151-131. Beal and James Harden are the only players this season with multiple instances of back-to-back 40-point games.
Beal, who returned on January 12 after missing five games with an ankle injury, is averaging 38 points per game in the last five games for Washington. However, the Wizards are 2-3 in the last five, and even though Beal is putting up big numbers, for him, it’s not good enough if the team is not winning.
“Forties don’t matter,” Beal said after the Wizards’ loss. “They don’t matter at all. You can throw them out the window for all I care. We gotta win ball games, and that’s all I want to do, and I’m sure that’s what we all want to do. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We gotta pick ourselves up and try to fix it.”
While Beal is playing at a high level, according to the two-time All-Star, he is still trying to find his rhythm.
“Sick part is I’m not in crazy rhythm like I want to; I’m just trying to be aggressive,” Beal said. “I’m just trying to win. That’s all I want to do. I don’t care about points; I don’t care about stats. I can average 80 points, but if we don’t win, I’m gonna be pissed.”
Defensively, the Wizards have struggled mightily, and in the last two games, they have allowed 152 points to the Hawks and 151 points to the Bucks. That’s not winning basketball.
With that being said, the Wizards have to be happy with Beal’s aggression and his ability to put the ball in the basket.
The Celtics prepared for a funeral tonight in Washington. Some Celtics players wore all black as they walked into the Verizon Center, for game 6 on Friday. However, the Wizards’ funeral is going to have wait another day. Thanks to a clutch John Wall three late in the 4th quarter, the Wizards were able force a game 7 after beating the Celtics 92-91. Game 7 is Monday night in Boston.
Here is what Wall and Bradley Beal had to say about the Celtics wearing black: