It almost seems like every year we have an "International Man of Mystery" when it comes to the upcoming NBA Draft Class. Last year, it was Sekou Doumbouya, formerly of Limoges CSP (France). Doumbouya went on to become a first-round selection of the Detroit Pistons after a year filled with NBA Draft hype. This year, the top international prospect is Deni Avdija of Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Now before the year, there was plenty of hype built around Avdija that he was the best international prospect since Luka Doncic. That could end up being a true story, but it's unfair to compare the two as Doncic has translated into one of the top players in the NBA in just his second season.
But Avdija has some similarities when it comes to his game. He's a point forward that has a fantastic feel for the game of basketball and thrives as a playmaker. Although Deni's stats won't wow you, it's important to remember that he recently turned 19 years old and is playing in one of the best basketball leagues in the entire world. Avdija has the tools and potential to blossom into one of the best players in this entire draft class. Let's take a closer look at why.
BY THE NUMBERS
The overall stats for Deni Avdija aren't going to wow you right off of the bat. Avdija had to earn his minutes and had his fair share of big games for Maccabi, but the real thing that mattered was the improvement in his play as the year progressed.
When you take a look below at Avdija's numbers when it comes to his Synergy rankings, Deni ranking in the 90th percentile when it comes to a P&R Ball Handler is eye-opening especially for a player of his size. The Spot Up percentage is a bit surprising to me, as Avdija has good form and touch from outside. Still, it's important to remember that Avdija was fighting his way for minutes early on in the year with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague, before earning consistent minutes due to his impressive play throughout the year.
Yes, this is a clip that should get you plenty excited about Deni Avdija as a draft prospect. Avdija stands at 6'9" but runs the floor like a guard. He's quick and transition and you can see that he should be plenty ready to hold his own against NBA type of players. While he's still young and will take some time to blossom, there's plenty on film to like when you watch the 19-year-old. Great little hesitation here in transition by Deni before he hits another gear and blows by for an easy slam.
You wouldn't think of it at first glance but there's a sneaky amount of athleticism when it comes to Deni's game. He's fantastic at reading the defense and knowing when it's time to attack the basket. Here we see a good example of a 19-year-old attacking with bad intentions.
OFF THE BOUNCE
I'm a fan of this clip for a number of reasons. First, we get a nice little sneak peek at the handles that Deni has in his arsenal. Most young players might give up on this play once the defense stops their initial attack. Instead, Deni regroups and hits the defender with a stepback three. A good demonstration of confidence.
Sometimes it's the smallest attention to details that can make all of the difference. Beginning of the game here and while some might question the shot selection...I love it. You can bet that a number of teams were preparing for Avdija to hurt them in the P&R game and the initial defender makes the smallest move to show he's going to go under this screen. Avdija sees it early on and decides to pull the trigger with the window.
OFF THE BALL IQ
The thing that really stands out to me when I watch Avdija on film is his recognition of reading the opposing defenses. A number of times you'll notice how good Deni is when it comes to moving without the ball. As shown previously on his Synergy rankings, Avdija ranks in the 87th percentile when it comes to Cuts.
Fan of this clip because it shows the technique and IQ for Avdija to work to create positioning for the entry pass. Once Deni works to get an angle, the help defender comes over to prevent Deni from getting an easy lane to the basket, except Avdija quickly reads this and slithers around him for an easy lay-in.
POST-UP OFFENSE PART II
While Avdija still has a way to go to put together his offensive versatility on a consistent basis, these are the types of flashes that get you excited about his potential. Nice little post-up opportunity here and a beautiful turn around fadeaway off the glass.
This is the clip you'd want to watch on repeat when you look at Deni Avdija's potential in the P&R game. Great job here of getting the on-ball defender behind him, showing patience to set up the secondary defender, and then slithering past the defense for the lay-up.
OFF THE BOUNCE PART II
Yes, I am all about this play. Avdija signals he's open for the weakside skip here and then attacks with authority. Look how quickly Deni blows by his defender and then finishes strong.
CATCH AND SHOOT
Great example of just the type of threat that Avdija could project to be early on in his career with the last two clips. While Deni didn't rate high when it came to Spot-Up via Synergy rankings, this should be a promising development for NBA teams to go off of. While I don't believe that Avdija will be ready to come in immediately and be a go-to scorer, as it's difficult for most rookies to do...I believe he could thrive as a secondary scorer.
OFF BALL IQ PART II
Another great clip showing us Avdija's ability away from the ball. Notice how he reads the defense and see's his defender falling asleep. Once his teammate in the post has the vision to make this pass, Deni cuts hard and finishes with authority.
It's always a dangerous game to play when you start talking about potential vs production...but when it comes to a young talent like Deni Avdija, potential is the word of choice. Avdija has the potential to blossom into something special in the NBA, but he will need his offensive game to begin to gel together. With his size and athleticism, he should be able to hold his own but his feel for the game and basketball IQ should allow for a potential smooth transition to the NBA game. It wouldn't surprise me to see some team in the Top 5 fall in love with the idea of adding a playmaker like Avdija to their rotation. As of right now, Deni Avdija finds himself 3rd overall on our 2020 NBA Draft Board.