2020 NBA Draft Profile: Deni Avdija
6’9 | SF | 19.3 | Maccabi Tel Aviv | 2001
Deni Avdija is a versatile forward who has steadily improved over the last two years to emerge as one of the best young players in the EuroLeague. His father, Zufer Avdija played for Yugoslavia in the 1982 FIBA World Championship but spent nearly a decade towards the end of his professional career in Israel. Born in Beit Zera, Avdija emerged as a prospect early in his career, but his rise to prominence accelerated in the summer of 2018. Impressing at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament, stuffing the stat sheet at both the FIBA U18 Division B and U20 European Championships, making a trip to play up at the NBPA Top-100 Camp in Virginia, and capping his summer by winning Most Valuable Player honors at the Basketball Without Borders Europe camp, Avdija solidified himself as one of the top 2001-born forwards in the world. Subsequently carving out a small but steady role with Maccabi Tel Aviv and dominating last summer’s 2019 FIBA U20 European Championship in Tel Aviv, Avdija entered this season facing growing expectations. Finishing the year strong averaging 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game, he filled a variety of roles for Maccabi as they geared up for a EuroLeague Final Four run.
- Standing 6’9 with an 225-pound frame that continues to fill out and a 6’10 wingspan, Avdija is not an especially rangy forward, but has a nice combination of strength and all-around athleticism that he makes use of in a variety of ways on both ends.
- A fiery competitor who has shown improvement as a shooter, a high motor off the ball, and the ability to create for himself and others off the dribble, Avdija has spent time functioning as a point-forward, a floor spacer, and a mismatch threat at both forward spots giving Maccabi whatever they have needed across the EuroLeague and Israeli Super League over the last two seasons. An improving shooter with a strong feel for the game, he showed his ability to fill a role at a high level this season despite his relative youth and significant potential.
- Showing significant growth on the defense end in recent years, Avdija is also an improved defender who makes an effort to protect the rim, has had to mature quickly to fill a role in the demanding EuroLeague, and has the physicality to hold his own on the perimeter even if he lacks a degree of length. An energetic player, he stuffed the stat sheet at the junior level with his consistent effort-level.
- Playing primarily off the ball this season alongside more than a half dozen former NBA players, Avdija did much of his scoring spotting up and filling lanes in transition. He scored 0.964 points per spot up possession [43rd percentile] showing improved mechanics and 1.158 points per transition possession [56th percentile] making some impressive plays going coast to coast. Running especially hot over an extended stretch late in the season, Avdija’s consistency as a shooter above the break is a point of interesting given his development over the last year while his ability to push the ball himself and fill lanes make him a well-rounded threat in the open floor.
- Flashing the ability to create for himself attacking the rim and posting up while finding the open man fairly creatively out of the pick and roll, Avdija also shows a comfort level with the ball in his hands. He has room to fine-tune his handle, but his versatility and potential as a secondary ball handler are appealing given his youth.
- His willingness to fill a role and ability to do so at a high level is also unique for his age. Forcing very few shots off the dribble and scoring an extremely impressive 1.402 points per shot around the rim in the half court [87th percentile], Avdija can play above the rim, but his efficiency is rooted in his excellent shot selection. He is an assertive player, but picks and chooses his spots quite well inside, gravitates to the corners when he is playing exclusively off the ball, and has excellent timing as a cutter.
- As well as Avdija played this year, his ability to translate his improved mechanics as a shooter to the free throw line could drive another significant jump in his offensive efficiency in the short-term.
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- Possessing good size and solid quickness to go along with a competitive streak that translates in a lot of little ways, Avdija is a fairly mature defender. Allowing 0.58 points per one-on-one possession [82nd percentile], his improved frame has helped him hold ground in the post while he displays some versatility guarding on the perimeter, even if he is still learning how to use his physicality to his advantage consistently.
- An active rebounder who makes a clear effort to help protect the rim using verticality, Avdija had to grow up in a hurry on the defensive end to earn minutes in Maccabi and it shows in his diligence on that end.