Wizards

With less prep time for rookies, how ready will Deni Avdija be?

Wizards

For most 19-year-old rookies like Wizards forward Deni Avdija, it's best to be patient and expect it to take time for them to make an impact at the NBA level. This year, even more patience will likely be needed.

Instead of having three months between getting drafted and the start of training camp, with rookie camp and the summer league in between, rookies this year have reported to camp just 13 days following the draft. Avdija will have to get up to speed quickly as he aims to compete for a rotation spot on what could be a playoff-caliber roster.

It won't be easy for him and his head coach isn't denying that.

"It's definitely unique. There's no way around it, it's different," Scott Brooks said. "Honestly, I don't really know how that's gonna all play out."

In his first press conference of the season on Monday, Brooks tempered expectations for Avdija, knowing there's a good chance it will take time for him to grow into his potential as an NBA player. Brooks also has other options at Avdija's position if he isn't ready to contribute right away.

As general manager Tommy Sheppard said leading up to the draft, the Wizards felt more comfortable taking the longview with their first round pick this year, knowing it was probably going to be difficult for any rookie to find minutes in their rotation. They have put together a roster around John Wall and Bradley Beal with the goal of winning now.

"If Deni and some of our young guys are ready to play right away, then great. If they're not, we're going to be really patient and continue to develop them," Brooks said.

 

Forward Rui Hachimura was in Avdija's boat just one year ago as the Wizards' 2019 first round pick. He had the normal amount of time to prepare for the season, including a stint in the summer league where he was able to perform in Brooks' system in live game action.

Hachimura understands how big of an advantage that type of stepping stone can be.

"This season will be so weird, so it's going to be tough. You've just gotta be patient," Hachimura said.

Avdija does have a few things working in his favor. He played professionally overseas, so certain elements of the approach and routine will not be new to him. And he also plays a position, at the three, that is more open than anywhere else on the Wizards' roster. It is not inconceivable he plays his way into a rotation spot early.

But that shouldn't be expected at this point. At his age and with these unusual circumstances, it's likely going to take some time.