Avdija posts career-high 15 rebounds in fourth double-double


After a career-best 15 rebounds for Deni Avdija, forward Kyle Kuzma made sure he got off a joke about the reason why it happened.

“Only because I was playing the five and I had to box out (Pistons center Isaiah) Stewart all night,” Kuzma cracked, later adding that Avdija knows he’s only joking.

And Avdija’s night, as Kuzma alluded to, was no joke indeed. He posted just his fourth career double-double with a 12-point, 15-rebound performance in a 103-94 win over the Pistons at Capital One Arena as the second-year pro is taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to him after the Wizards’ deadline shakeup. 

“Just being more aggressive in general, know what spots the ball will hit and things that you learn as you mature,” Avdija said of his rebounding. “I feel more strong, too, I’ve been working a lot on my body. In general, I’m just being in the paint and helping my teammate get those boards.”

It was Avdija’s third-straight game with a double-digit point total. It is just the second time this season, and in his career, he’s had such a streak.

He played 30:43 (aided by the fact that Rui Hachimura left with an ankle sprain), the seventh-most minutes he’s played all season long. And in the last three games, he’s played more than 31, 28 and 30 minutes, respectively. 

“I feel like having the confidence to be more aggressive, create more for others, have the ball a little more, just in general how the ball moves on offense is great,” Avdija said. “It feels great sharing the ball. It looks great and generates a lot of shots for others, and I’m part of the players that loves to play-make and get shots for others.”


The new-look Wizards, in truth, are not all that new. But with Davis Bertans, Spencer Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell gone, there will be opportunities for some of the younger Wizards to shine over the final 26 games of the regular season. 

“It’s not mistake-free and no one expects it to be, but I love his effort,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “He’s trying to understand, trying to do the right thing, but his overall effort? That gives him a chance. I think that’s important.”

And so far, Avdija has shown he’s ready to take advantage in any way he can. 

“I feel like we’re more engaged, this change also changed a little bit of our roles,” Avdija said. “Everybody needs to do a little bit more (than before). We were short on the rotation. [Kristaps Porzingis] still needs to come back. We’re excited, man. We just keep our heads in the game, do what we need to, everybody knows their role. I think we can do great things. We needed a change, and it’s progress. It’s going to take some time and I believe in this team.”

An additional bonus, as Avdija pointed out, is that the more he plays, the more confident he feels in his game. In his last three games he’s attempted 19 shots, an average of 9.67 shot attempts per game. Before the trade deadline, he was averaging just 6.1 attempts per game. 

His shot attempts weren’t what Avdija was known for in the first part of the season — that was his defensive ability to guard most everyone on the opposing team. But now, he’ll get a shot to prove everything he needs to.

“Defensively, he’s been active,” Unseld added. “He’s trying to maintain the matchup and understand different tendencies and personnel. Situations, he’s doing a better job recognizing who he’s guarding, how do we want to handle those situations. Then the rebounding component. Kuz has shown his ability to do it, I think it’s now Deni’s turn.”