The Wizards are in the midst of a six-game winning streak and now look like a team with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.
Much of that sudden success could be attributed to a course correction and who's getting the most minutes on the floor, the result of trading Rui Hachimura to the Lakers which has freed up more time for Deni Avdija.
Hachimura's last game with the Wizards came against Orlando on Jan. 21, the second victory in the Wizards' current six-game winning streak. In the four games since the trade, Avdija's rattled off games of 15, 10, 15 and 25 points. The Wizards it seems are finally getting the full complement of their stars being aligned on the court at the same time.
Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. joined The Sports Junkies this week to talk about what's spurred on this streak.
"Yeah he was [a productive player] and he was great off the bench," Unseld said of Hachimura. "I think it's, to your point, a bit of a logjam at that position with KP playing four. You know, it really squeezed Rui, Deni, even [Kuzma] so much at getting those minutes."
"Like Tommy [Sheppard] said, addition by subtraction in some regard," Unseld continued. "Freeing those minutes up I think really helped Deni. He's playing really well, specifically on this trip. But a lot of times things, there's a lot of moving parts, and he was a foundational piece coming into this year and you look at where you are, how you can adjust and how can we improve. And just a little tweak of trading a guy really opens up some things for other players and I think really helps us long term."
When asked about the tight relationship Kristaps Porzingis — or 'KP' as the coach referred to him — and Avdija have formed, Unseld says Porzingis has been a huge help to Avdija's development.
"Yes he has," he said. "He's a young vet. People don't realize he's not even 30, but you feel like he's been around, he's been in the league so long. And maybe it's the commonality of being a foreign-born player playing here in the NBA, but KP's been around. He's been in different organizations.
"He's kind of understanding now his impact. And a lot of guys don't want to do it, not able to do it, but I think he's done a terrific job of kind of putting his arm around Deni and really helping his development, not only on the floor but in his professional life."
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