Deni Avdija scores seven points in his NBA debut

Israeli teen starts in Wizards’ season-opener, plays 28 minutes and earns praise of coach for poise and defensive presence

Deni Avdija plays in a preseason game for the Washington Wizards, the NBA team that drafted him in the first round of the 2020 draft. (photo credit: NED DISHMAN/NBA PHOTOS)
Deni Avdija plays in a preseason game for the Washington Wizards, the NBA team that drafted him in the first round of the 2020 draft.
(photo credit: NED DISHMAN/NBA PHOTOS)
WASHINGTON – Deni Avdija made his debut at the NBA on Wednesday night, as the Washington Wizards played against the Philadelphia 76ers in their first game of the regular season, following the shortest ever offseason period. The game was held without an audience due to COVID-19 restriction.
The 19-year-old Israeli was included in Washington’s starting lineup and made his first shot attempt, nailing a three-pointer at the seven-minute mark of the first quarter.
The Wizards led by as many 12 points, thanks to a strong third quarter, but came up short and lost 113-107, as Joel Embid dominated the paint in the last quarter and ended with 29 and 14 rebounds overall. It was the Wizards' eight straight loss in Philadelphia.  
The Israeli rookie, who was selected last month at ninth overall in the NBA draft, scored seven points (2-of-2 from three-point range and 1-of-2 from the foul-line) and collected four rebounds in 28 minutes, including an impressive assist to Bradley Beal. He also demonstrated good decision making on the defensive side. Avdija also added three turnovers and his team was a +14 with him on the floor.
Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) at Barclays Center. (Wendell Cruz - USA Today Sports)
Asked whether he should have to try to take more shots, Avdija said at the post-game press conference: "It's the first game, and everybody's excited. I just took a shot when I had the opportunity; I'm not forcing anything. I'm going to be patient, it's only the first game, and of course, throughout the season, we're going to get better."
Russell Westbrook was the first Wizards player to reach a triple-double in his debut, clinching the 147th of his career before the end third quarter. The All-Star ended the game with 21 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds. Bradley Beal scored 31 points in 35 minutes.
On his relationship with Westbrook, Avdija said, "We have a great relationship. Russell is great, and he’s really trying to help me and guide me both on and off of the court. He’s great to play with on the court and his mental side of the game is really amazing we are very similar in that light."
The Wizards' head coach, Scott Brooks, flattered Avdija at a press conference. "I thought he was fantastic," he said. I know he's only 19 years old but he plays with a passion, plays with a determination that I like.
"I've been there a long, long time ago – that first game. No matter what he told me, I know there's some butterflies, and those are good," Brooks added. "He cares. He's passionate. He wants to do well. I thought he played well. Can he get some more opportunities offensively? I think that's all going to come around. We're going to have to learn what he can do better as the season goes on.”
"He's going to learn how we do things, but it's all a growing period," Brooks continued. "I thought he makes winning basketball plays. And, and right now, that's all I care about. You make winning basketball plays in the offense, and the game will reward you. And that's what he does. That's what he's about. That's one of the main things I've noticed from being around him for three weeks. That he cares about winning basketball plays.”