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Wizards criticized by international coach over their handling of 1 player

Wes Unseld Jr. in a suit

Dec 29, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. in the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

One international coach sounds ready to start the “Free Deni” movement.

During a recent episode of his podcast “Pini and Tzenzi,” Pini Gershon, the head coach of the Israeli national team, criticized the Washington Wizards over their supposed misuse of forward Deni Avdija.

“[They don’t] design plays for him,” he said of Avdija, per BasketNews. “In Washington, he stands in the corner and waits for the ball to be handed over to him. If Deni is not on the Israeli [national] team, he does not make it to the NBA.”

Gershon, who coaches Avdija on the Israeli national team, is speaking on the heels of Avdija’s first two NBA seasons. The 21-year-old Avdija was a three-time champion and MVP in the Israeli League and went with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. But Avdija has hardly lived up to that billing with Washington, averaging 7.6 points a game to this point of his NBA career.

The Wizards are Bradley Beal’s team first and foremost. Then after Beal, the scraps on offenses are picked up by Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, and Rui Hachimura, all of whom averaged more shot attempts last year than Avdija.

The 6-foot-9 Avdija is a talented all-around player with a deep offensive bag and excellent playmaking skills for a player of his size. But he may never be a featured part of Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr’s offense with the roster as currently built (though Washington did hire a notable player development coach this offseason).

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