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The Washington Wizards Young Core is Blossoming

Feb 10, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (8) shoots the ball as Philadelphia 76ers guard Buddy Heeled (17) defends in the second half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards young core is blossoming with each passing game. The Wizards are currently on a six-game losing streak, but despite that, forwards Deni AvdjiaCorey Kispert and Bilal Coulibaly are coming into their own. The average age between the trio is 22. How have these three players improved?

The Washington Wizards Young Core is Blossoming

Deni Avdjia

Avdjia was drafted ninth overall in the 2020 draft by Washington and has taken a significant leap. The former first-round pick averaged 9.2 points and shot 43.7 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from beyond the arc last season. This year, Avdijia is averaging 13 points while shooting 51.5 percent on the field and 39.3 percent from three-point range.

Avdjia has suddenly become one of the Wizards best players on a nightly basis. Over the last ten games, he is tallying an average of 16 points, seven rebounds and 3.6 assists. He is shooting 57.5 percent from two-point range and 48.7 percent from three-point range in the last ten outings. The 2020 draft pick recently had two consecutive performances where he had at least 20 points and at least 10 rebounds (first time in his career).

In the snippet, Avdjia is in the open court after grabbing a rebound. The only player in front of him is All-Star forward Jaylen Brown. Avdjia crosses Brown and easily gets to the basket for two points through contact.

Avdjia is slowly but surely living up to this top-ten draft status. He can consistently hit shots from distance, finish at the rim through contact, and crash the boards effectively.

The Wizards forward needs to improve his ball security, as he currently averages 2.8 turnovers per game over the last ten contests. If Avidjia can decrease his turnover rate and continue this level of play, his stock in the NBA will rise.

Corey Kispert

Kispert has been arguably Washington’s best player coming off the bench. Over the last five games, Kispert is averaging 18.6 points while shooting 54.5 percent from two-point range and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Kispert was drafted 15th overall in the 2021 draft out of Gonzaga. The former first-round pick has displayed supreme confidence throughout the season and it’s been apparent lately. His off-ball movement and playmaking skills have turned him into a solid well-rounded asset for Washington.

In this clip, Kispert receives a pass from Jordan Poole in transition. Kispert drives to the basket with intensity and throws down a strong dunk.

The Washington forward can score inside and outside the paint, but Kispert’s bread and butter is by attacking the paint aggressively. Kispert is shooting 64.2 percent while driving in the paint and earns 81.3 in PTS percentage, respectively.

Kispert is essentially a slasher that can shoot from the perimeter, which poses him as a threat anywhere on the court.

Bilal Coulibaly

Coulibaly was drafted seventh overall in the 2023 draft. The former first-round pick tallied 13 and 21 points (career-high vs. Boston) in the last two games for Washington. The rookie forward has had a promising freshman season in the NBA. Coulibaly earned a spot in the 2024 Panini Rising Stars roster that will play during All-Star Weekend.

On the year, Coulibaly averages 8.5 points (13th among rookies) and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 45.3 percent from the field. The 19-year old rookie averages 26.8 minutes per game, which ranks fifth among rookies.

Coulibaly displays tenacity defensively and aggression on both ends of the court, which has propelled him into one of the NBA’s rising stars.

In this clip, Coulibaly drives into the paint and finishes for two points while absorbing the contact from Georges Niang. The poise and assertiveness from Coulibaly are promising traits from a rookie.

The Last Word

Interim head coach Brian Keefe is known as a developmental coach. He’s spent nearly twenty years with various teams as an assistant coach. Keefe is accredited for helping star players develop, such as James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook, just to name a few. No wonder Avdjia, Kispert, and Coulibaly are showing steady improvement under Keefe.

Yes, the Wizards have the second worst record in the league, but the development of the young core is crucial. Washington is in the middle of a rebuild, and Coulibaly, Avdjia, and Kispert could be the future of this franchise.


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