Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv
Date of Birth: January 3rd, 2001
Height/Weight: 6’9, 215 lbs.
International prospects are always fascinating to monitor. Many will know other 2020 names like RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball who chose to go overseas or the pair of french guards Theo Maledon and Kilian Hayes. One name however that hasn’t been talked about much as of late is Deni Avdija.
Deni Avdija is a young forward from Tel Aviv, Israel who made waves when he led the Israeli team to a gold medal at the FIBA U-20 Championships in July. He was also named MVP of the entire tournament. Avdija currently plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League while bouncing around between their senior and junior teams. When playing for the junior team this year, he has been playing some stellar basketball.
Deni is a true team player that will do what it takes to win games and I think that holds a lot of value. For instance, even if his shot isn’t falling it’s not uncommon to see Avdija looking to make key passes, grabbing rebounds, and intelligently rotating on the defensive end. It’s common to see him communicating and guiding teammates as a true leader on the floor. These are the kind of intangibles that won’t show up on the box score but show the character of a player and NBA GMs are looking for it.
Another plus is how smart of a player Deni is. I’m a firm believer that there will always be a role for smart players in the NBA and Deni should fit into that belief. He can pass well and displays impressive vision (A step down from the LaMelo and Haliburton level). When handling the ball, he can operate out of the pick and roll and make all of the reads associated with it. Deni makes a lot of passes in both transition and in the half court. On the defensive end, he has impeccable timing when going to block shots from behind and from weak-side rotations.
The next facet of Deni’s game worth noting is how comfortable he is shooting the ball from beyond the three point arc. His shooting form is fundamentally sound with a quick shot that has a solid release point. It’s not just the beauty of the shot itself, but also how he gets the shot as well. Deni is comfortable taking shots on off ball movement where he excels at getting his feet set on dribble hand-offs and is also comfortable pulling up after a series of small crossovers.
Athletically there is a positive to Deni as to how smooth he is for someone at 6’9″. While he is not at an elite level athletically, he has shown that he has some straight line speed in the open court even with the ball in his hands. That leads to my next point that for a forward, Deni has solid handles with dribble moves that he uses to get space for a pull up to or to get a defender on their heels when attacking the rim.
Defensively, there are some areas to be excited about for Avdija. He can keep attackers in front of him and can use his length to alter and block shots. As stated earlier, he is a leader and does a good job of communicating with his teammates on the defensive end.
While some of Deni’s physicals are a plus (height, length, straight line speed) there are some negatives associated with him as well. His play strength is quite an issue right now as he can get pushed around when trying to attack the basket on offense. On defense, this can also hinder his game as he can get backed down. He has a rather thin frame and weighing only 215 pounds suggests that the physical play of the NBA may be an issue for the first couple years of his career. It causes him to get pushed around by some players who are smaller then him right now.
This next issue may come from his high usage rate on the offensive end, especially for his international career, but there are times where his defensive processing and movement is delayed. As a result, he can be a step late on a rotation or can even get caught ball watching.
A weakness we can see at the NBA level is what his level of creativity is going to be. As of now, Deni Avdija creates well due to his fluid athleticism, length, handles, and high IQ. However, he lacks elite quickness and his creative ability may suffer against NBA defenders. Another hindrance to his offensive game, as is common for young players, is that he is scared to attack to the left (he’s right handed). He is very timid about going to that side and normally won’t unless it is given to him. When in transition, Advija isn’t effective at finishing at the rim either.
Deni Avdija will more than likely be a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Due to his skill-set, length, and fluid movement there is a good chance that he could be a good 2nd or 3rd scoring option for an NBA team in the near future. There is a lot of good to his game and not a lot of bad. In the NBA, he will need to be able to find smart ways to create to really maximize on his potential going forward. Gaining weight and continuing to work on his body will also be something to monitor. At the very least, he will be a player that can help your team win by doing whatever is needed of him and that desire to win will make him valuable.