Deni Avdija's consistency as a shooter is a big question for him going into his rookie season, but the Wizards are expressing confidence in his abilities, including with some extremely high praise.
Head coach Scott Brooks, for one, said the team has evaluated Avdija's shooting mechanics early in his first training camp, and they determined he doesn't need a fix.
"He just needs reps," Brooks said. "I think his shot is good. It’s a work in progress, but his form, the mechanics, I think are pretty solid."
Okay, that was a nice thing to say. Then, there is what teammate Rui Hachimura said.
"He’s a good shooter. He’s like a typical [international] big; tall, shooter," Hachimura said. "Almost like a D.B."
By 'D.B.,' he means teammate Davis Bertans, who shot 42.4 percent from three last season on 8.7 attempts per game, establishing himself as one of the very best shooters in the NBA. If Avdija could ever get to that point, it would be a major development for the Wizards.
Avdija, the ninth overall pick in November, has a lot of skills. His shot, however, is likely to take some time after he made just 27.7 percent of his threes and 55.6 percent of his free throws last year in the EuroLeague.
Avdija has worked a lot on his shooting, including by speeding up his motion during the pre-draft process. But going from those numbers to Bertans' level would truly be something.
"Rui, thank you so much, man. I appreciate it," Avdija said with a beaming smile.
"I’m trying to get my shots up every day. I worked a lot on my shooting. I think it’s coming together. I still have a lot to work on, but I’m definitely getting my reps up. If he compares me to Bertans, I don’t want to change it. I don’t want to say anything else. Leave it at that."
Hachimura also praised Avdija's athleticism, saying he "moves like a guard" and said he has the versatility to play multiple positions. He has also been advising Avdija on how to find success in his rookie season, as Hachimura made the All-Rookie team just last year.
"Practice, game, meeting, treatment, weight lifting. Anything. You’ve gotta take it serious. Everything matters," Hachimura said.
Avdija has been observing Hachimura's work habits so far and has asked him questions about how to prepare. Hachimura has given him pointers, but also told him it's important to keep it simple.
"He just told me to play. I have the skill. I got drafted here for a reason," Avdija said. "I’m just going to give it 100 percent and I don’t believe I’m going to have a problem."
Hachimura also gave Avdija some tips on how to deal with rookie duties. Last season, Hachimura often had to bring food to the veterans on the plane for road games.
Avdija is already gearing up for that.
"It’s out of love. You’ve gotta do it with love," he said.