Deni Avdija likes competing with Davis Bertans in shooting drills

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Avdija likes competing with Bertans in shooting drills originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

At a practice this past week, the Wizards coaching staff set the bar high for Deni Avdija. The second-year forward was placed in a two-man shooting drill with Davis Bertans, one of the most accurate long range marksmen in today's NBA.

They began taking shots stationed in the corner, then moved to the wing. Then, Wizards assistants placed cones on the perimeter to imitate screeners. Avdija and Bertans had to sprint around the cones and practice catch-and-shoot plays.

Avdija, 20, for the most part held his own. There were times he matched Bertans shot-for-shot. While Bertans afterwards indicated he made the most shots (apparently, he keeps track), both players spoke to the value of Avdija being in such a drill, as it gave him a difficult benchmark to strive for.

"Me and Davis have a fun relationship in terms of shooting," Avdija said. "We both came from Europe, we both know our similar coaches and how tough they were on us at a young age. Me and Davis are always talking s--- to each other, so it feels good shooting with him. It pushes me, he pushes me. It’s not easy to shoot with a guy like Davis, one of the best shooters in the league. I challenge myself. I like it, I like it because it makes me better. So, shoutout to him."

Trash-talking is always part of the equation with Bertans. He's quick with his barbs and clever, sometimes directing light-hearted jabs at the media about their basketball abilities (or lack thereof).

Bertans is confident as a shooter and isn't afraid to make that known. 

"He’s not bad, I’ll give him that," Avdija said of Bertans' on-court chatter.

When Bertans was asked about the shooting drill, he joked that it was "one-sided." And when a reporter mentioned Avdija was "trying to keep up" with him, he honed in on that phrase.

"It's good that you said 'trying to keep up.' To me, the outcome is usually the same," he joked. "But I think it's good for him to be around that and even if he improves a little bit, even if he doesn't reach my level, then he's still going to improve and get better. Probably in that situation, when he does and he gets more competitive and closer, it's going to probably be a bigger confidence boost for him going into the games."

Bertans, 28, shot 39.5% from three last season on 7.5 attempts per game. He shot over 42% from long range the two seasons before that. Avdija, meanwhile, hit 31.5% of his threes as a rookie last season.

Bertans said he has been impressed with Avdija so far in Wizards camp. His best advice to him has been to stick to his strengths and build off of them.

His outside shooting remains a work in progress, but if he can match Bertans in shooting drills, Avdija will be well on his way.