Wizards forward Deni Avdija's rookie season was cut short after suffering a right fibular hairline fracture in April. Before the injury, Avdija was putting up 6.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 1.2 apg as an important member of Scott Brooks’ young frontcourt.
Despite his rookie season ending early and then being confined to a walking boot, Avdija's recovery has progressed well. “The recovery is going great. I feel much better. I don’t need the boot anymore,” Avdija said in a recent interview with the Wizards’ Off the Bench podcast. “I’m going to start running very soon, getting my shape back. I’m doing a lot of mobility stuff that I didn’t have the time to do throughout the season.”
Avdija’s update is welcomed news for Wizards fans, who have high expectations for the forward after what he showed in Israel prior to his NBA arrival.
“What I loved about my rookie year is the experience I got to have and the playing minutes that I was on the court,” Avdija said. “Rookie season, I had ups and downs, so it was normal for me…I feel like the rookie season was very, very efficient for me.”
Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis and general manager Tommy Sheppard were there every single step of the way for Avdija, before and during his injury recovery process. "They [Leonsis and Sheppard] think my rookie year was good. I was happy to go (to) the gym, I have good work ethic,” Avdija said, quoting the two front office members. “I ask a lot of questions. I help the team in some perspective. And I feel like they want to see me improve. They want to see me taking more responsibility, being more mature…and those are all things you can get with time.”
Wizards fans should be excited to see what Avdija can do in his sophomore campaign. At times during his rookie season, teammate Russell Westbrook was so confident in Avdij that he'd yell at him to shoot. If Avdija can stay healthy in 2021-22, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his numbers improve on both ends of the floor.
“It was hard for me throughout the season to watch the guys from the sides and not help them,” Avdija said. “But I’m getting healthy. I’ll come back stronger.”