Yet another big-name player is down for the count in the NBA.
The NBA’s theme of major injuries to big-time players this season continued on Wednesday, with the Washington Wizards’ prized rookie Deni Avdija going down with a hairline fracture in his right ankle that will effectively end his season, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Avdija had come down very awkwardly after a missed layup in the final minute of the first half of a matchup with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday evening. The Israeli looked to be in severe pain as teammate Jordan Bell rushed over to cover the injured ankle with his warmups.
The Israeli national lay on the hardwood writhing in pain for some time after the incident, and was eventually lifted up and taken off the court in a wheelchair by teammates.
“Seeing a guy go down like that is real scary,” Wizards center Daniel Gafford admitted. “You never know what is going to happen. Seeing him down on the floor as long as that, I felt his pain. I understand it’s going to be a long road to recovery, but with the trainers that we got, he’s in good hands.”
The rookie underwent x-rays right away on Wednesday night—an MRI to check for ligament issues is set for Thursday—which ended up revealing the hairline fracture. The severity of the injury will not require surgical reparation, however, which puts the recovery time at about two to three months, a source told Wojnarowski.
The Wizards were able to rally and come from behind to win that game against Golden State on the strength of 29 points from Bradley Beal and a 14-point, 10-assist, 20-rebound triple double from Russell Westbrook. It was their sixth straight win and keeps them in 10th place in the East, the last spot in the play-in tournament.
That recent success has also meant more respect from oddsmakers and sportsbooks like 888sport, who now have the Wiz as whopping -556 NBA odds favorites to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in their next outing on Friday. A better NBA pick might be on Washington’s point spread, which sits at -8.0 with solid -118 NBA odds on 888sport.
Washington selected Avdija out of Israel with the 20th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft after the way the then-19-year-old had dominated the Israeli Basketball Premier League the previous year, winning the league MVP while leading his Maccabi Tel Aviv squad to the title.
He has also won two gold medals playing on his country’s youth teams, including at the U20 European Championship in 2019, where he was named tournament MVP. At 6’9”, he has a bevy of different talents on the floor and is able to serve as a jack-of-all-trades until he (hopefully, for the Wiz) develops into their starting point guard, which would be deadly considering his size, his superb basketball IQ, and his playmaking ability.
“Two things about Deni I love: He cares a lot and he works extremely hard,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “And those are two characteristics that we want our program to be about. Has he had an up-and-down year, absolutely. You look at all the great rookies, the MVPs in the league, look at their rookie year, it’s no different. Sometimes, we put too much pressure on these players to be 27-year-olds right away.”
Avdija had struggled to find any level of consistency during his freshman campaign in the NBA, putting up 6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists on a 42/32/64 shooting line that left much to be desired in his 54 appearances.
Beal, who has had his fair share of lower body injuries, shared some words of wisdom with his 20-year-old teammate after the game.
“My advice would be the same I would give myself when I was a rookie,” Beal said. “Just understanding your body is growing, there are going to be some ups and downs, there is going to be a lot of stuff you can’t control. Just staying positive, knowing that you can come back on the other side of this a better player and even stronger.”