6’9″, 215lbs, Point Forward, Israel
The 2020 NBA Draft is just under a year away, but it is never too early to look ahead. Leading up to then, the FOG Spotlight will evaluate different prospects looking at their film, statistics, NBA fit and developmental trajectory.
Deni Avdija came onto the scene as a potential NBA player very early in his basketball career. To give a brief introduction, Avdija has the skillset of what could be three to four very different NBA players. Widely considered a point guard by many evaluators, even at 6’9” and 215 pounds. He can spot up and shoot with comfort from anywhere around the arc. He has no problem running the pick and roll, as the picker or roll guy. But it’s not just on offense, Avdija can legitimately guard the 1-4 positions and continuously proves he is an underrated rim protector. Following the trend of high level young European players from the past, Avdija has an incredibly maturity and basketball IQ level for his age. To put it simply, Deni Avdija is no joke, and it will not take long for him to get his grip on the style and pace of play in the NBA.
Avdija has played professionally in the Israeli Basketball Super League as well as the Euro League, widely considered the second best league in the world, for Maccabi Tel Aviv for more than two years already. Deni debuted professionally at just age 16. Avdija has played for multiple levels of the Israeli national team, highlighted by leading the U-20 team to a gold medal in 2019. Teams in the lottery of the 2020 NBA Draft do not have to worry about the competition level for Deni, like they might for other guard prospects like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton. Deni is still only 18 years old.
Looking into his game now, Avdija has said again and again in interviews, he does not have a position, rather that he does what his coaches instruct him to. The team he lands with next offseason is not reliant on fit due to the fact the Israeli born prospect can play the stretch four, or handle the ball and control an offense, or anything in between. The shooting stroke is not complex, but is incredibly fluid and has the ability to shot against strong contests. An overall descriptor for his offensive style is simply, smooth. With long strides at close to 7 feet, Avdija can skip through the lane and finish at the rim. From film and statistics, Avdija best skill is playmaking and court vision. He loves to grab boards and push the pace at all times, throwing bounce passes and ally oops putting his teammates in good positions. Reminiscent of many other European players, Deni is a very good cutter. He has great timing, adding to the already known impressive feel for the game. Defensively, he certainly could use an NBA weight room routine but with an improved motor, he always competes. Also, he is not yet an elite athlete like many American prospects at the college level show. Long arms and a low body fat percentage, Avdija consistently jumps passing lanes and makes the opposition uncomfortable.
Projecting Deni Avdija as an NBA player is not simple as there are very few prospects in recent memory that carry the skillset he has already displayed. In the last few months, the Tel Aviv Maccabi star has gained traction as a potential top 10 pick, but there is no cap to where he may end up come next June 2020. Any team near the top of the draft would be extraordinarily lucky to land Avdija, as he climbs to the very top of the FOG 2020 NBA Draft Big Board.