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Wizards forward Rui Hachimura out 3 weeks with an eye infection

Wizards, Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, Russell Westbrook, Deni Avdija

The Washington Wizards will be without second-year swingman Rui Hachimura for the start of the 2020-21 season.

Washington announced Monday the former Gonzaga star will be out close to three weeks due to an eye infection.

Hachimura had been diagnosed with the infection last week, missing each of the Wizards’ final two preseason games. It seems he will have to take a seat for an extended period before things return to normal.

This could pave the way for 2020 first-round pick Deni Avdija to slot into the starting lineup.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks had already said last week there was a good chance Avdija would be the starting small forward. The latest determination on Hachimura would seem to practically cinch that notion.

Avdija was very impressive in his preseason debut, scoring 15 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field–including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc–while also adding four rebounds and a pair of assists in 24 minutes.

The Israeli teenager got a more extended run in the team’s second game against the Detroit Pistons, scoring seven points to go with five rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes before nearly notching a double-double in the preseason finale with the Wizards.

It will be interesting to see how Brooks allocates minutes to Avdija and Hachimura going forward, once the latter is healthy.

Hachimura averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in his rookie season, though he struggled defensively. Brooks might choose to run some lineups with Avdija at power forward and Hachimura at small forward, ideally using Avdija as a floor-spacer and playmaker.

In any case, Hachimura will miss the next few weeks before being reevaluated.