Avdija will not need surgery and is expected to make a “full recovery” in approximately 12 weeks, the Wizards said in a statement. The NBA’s postseason is scheduled to run from May 22 to July 22, and 12 weeks from Thursday is July 15.
The 20-year-old from Israel is the second player on Washington’s roster to suffer a major injury this season. The Wizards also lost starting center Thomas Bryant to a partial ACL tear in early January, though the season-ending injuries are far from the only significant maladies the team has dealt with.
As with many teams during this condensed NBA season packing 72 games into less than six months, various ailments have plagued Washington nearly from Day 1, when starting point guard Russell Westbrook was playing through a quadriceps injury that hampered him for months.
Backup point guard Ish Smith missed nearly seven weeks with a quadriceps injury. Forward Davis Bertans only recently returned from a calf strain that sidelined him for almost two weeks and had him on a minutes restriction until last week, and backup center Daniel Gafford remains on a minutes restriction after injuring his ankle. Starting forward Rui Hachimura has missed the past two games with knee soreness and is expected to sit again Friday when the Wizards visit the Oklahoma City Thunder. Star guard Bradley Beal missed five games with a hip injury at the end of March and beginning of April.
The Wizards were only just getting back to full health, and they have a season-best six-game winning streak to show for it.
For Avdija, the fracture presents yet another setback in a tumultuous rookie season of soaring highs and lows unique to this pandemic year.
The forward, then a teenager who was already a veteran of the Israeli premier league, became Israel’s first player drafted in the top 10 and only the second to go in the first round when the Wizards selected him at No. 9 in November. His experience and solid defense for an NBA newbie paid off: Avdija started the first 16 games of his career despite an interruption in which he missed nearly 20 days in January as one of a handful of Washington players in the NBA’s coronavirus protocol.
His first season featured the regular ups and downs of a rookie year, too — the forward seemed to be a force in transition toward the start of the year but had to adjust as he found himself in more of a catch-and-shoot role the past few weeks.
He ended his year a rotation stalwart nonetheless, starting the past 15 games and averaging 6.3 points on 41.7 percent shooting from the field. He also pulled in 4.9 boards per game, a critical contribution for a team lacking aggressive rebounders not named Westbrook for much of the season.
“Two things about Deni I love: He cares a lot, and he works extremely hard,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said Wednesday. “And those are two characteristics that we want our program to be about, and he’s about those things. Has he had an up-and-down year? Absolutely. You look at all the great rookies, all the great players in the league, the MVPs in the league, look at their rookie years. It’s no different. Sometimes we put so much pressure on all these players to be 27-year-olds right away. … Deni cares, and he works hard, and he’s an outstanding kid. We’re lucky to have him on our team, and we’re going to keep getting him better.”