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DENI AVDIJA: A STAR ROLE-PLAYER WITH A POTENTIAL FOR MORE?

@TheWillBaldwin

Deni Avdija has one of the most intriguing skillsets in this draft. Though he doesn’t necessarily excel at one thing, he isn’t bad at one either. He’s just good and I’m not sure if with a lower ceiling that’ll be enough to entice upper-lottery teams.

Avdija is the classic case of a guy who feels close to his ceiling but also doesn’t have much, if any, bust potential either. A selection of him would feel safe and wouldn’t necessarily get you fired, though it’s not going to have people shouting your praises either. 

Instead, he’s going to come in and compete at a high level from day one. His unique level of international experience in multiple competitions has given him the chance to fill many roles. 

For the Israeli junior national team, he is the superstar who carried them to European glory. At Maccabi Tel-Aviv, his club, he’s a sparkplug bench player in the Euroleague or, a starting role player in the normal competition. 

What he’s shown at each level, is he’s good. That sounds simplistic however, it is nice to know a pick of him is a pick of a proven commodity. 

He may not come over and win rookie of the year, rather he’ll be okay accepting a role and thriving alongside better players. There’s a reason he’s been linked to the Warriors a lot as he could easily slide in and fill a role there.

The reason we can feel so confident about his ceiling is due to the fact he doesn’t do one thing great. 

If he was a great athlete, for example, the shooting issues wouldn’t be a thing you overly worry about. Similarly, if he was a knockdown shooter, the fact he lacks extreme explosion or a great handle would be accepted. 

Unfortunately for Deni though, he just doesn’t have that one tangible thing you can market him as. 

He is a great passer, particularly in the open floor and that has the potential to be his thing. The problem with that is he doesn’t have a tight enough handle or jumper to fully take advantage and showcase it so it’s a lot of projection on how good a passer he truly is. 

There are flashes of borderline great for his size and position, don’t get me wrong. The issue is without the proven reps of him doing it over and over, it’s tough to know the level at which he is. 

Outside of the playmaking, there really isn’t anything to hang your hat on as the potential separator for him. 

I will say, his shooting gives me hope. After quarantine, he came back in the Israeli league restart and looked markedly better. Seeing that type of improvement is exciting though again, I don’t see him getting to like a Klay Thompson level where it becomes a defining trait. 

What I do see is a future Danilo Gallinari or Bojan Bogdanovic type career with maybe some Gordon Hayward as well. 

I see Galinari and Bogdanovic in the way I envision him scoring and defending at the NBA level in his peak. Both guys are solid shooters, can handle the ball, create some for themselves and are just overall good solid players. They may not win you a Finals MVP but, they will help you win games which is what many of these lottery franchises have to weigh. 

Is it worth taking a swing on a guy with a higher ceiling over someone like Avdija with a drive to win who doesn’t quite have the potential peak like others? 

Time and again in competitions for his country and club, the Israeli-Serbian has a way about him that can only be described as fiery. Whether it be him or a teammate making a big play, he isn’t afraid to show emotion and compete which is something you have to love. 

It’s also why you have to believe he’s going to improve. He just comes across as the type of guy who’s going to put in the work to get better. 

When we re-draft this draft in 10 years, I won’t be surprised if Avdija is in the top 4-7 guys as he feels like a lock to have a long and good career. The question teams have to answer is, are they okay settling for a guy in that range or is swinging for a guy with a higher chance to be better worth the fact they could also be significantly worse.

Time will tell but I’m a fan of Deni and his attitude on the floor, it’s the kind of personality that caters to winning you just have to love. 

Scouting Report

Stats: 

SeasonTeamLeagueGPGSMINFGMFGAFG%3PM3PA3P%FTMFTAFT%OFFDEFTRBASTSTLBLKPFTOVPTS
2019-20 *All TeamsAll Leagues592621.73.426.78.5051.033.10.3331.141.93.5880.564.104.662.000.680.662.071.589.02
2019-20 *Maccabi FOX Tel AvivI-BSL332127.64.889.27.5261.454.12.3531.732.91.5940.555.736.272.670.911.002.122.2412.94
2019-20 *Maccabi FOX Tel AvivEuroleague26514.31.583.62.4360.501.81.2770.380.69.5560.582.042.621.150.380.232.000.734.04

Projection:

  • A good player who contributes to winning every night with all the good things he does

Player Comps:

  • Danilo Gallinari- Galo’s all-around skill set has served him well in the NBA, providing a blueprint for guys like Avdija.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic- A skilled scorer and smart player who has grinded his way to a really good professional career.
  • Gordan Hayward- A tall playmaking forward who isn’t the best athlete but has a way of contributing to winning and helping his teammates

Strengths:

  • Good passer with the potential to be really good
  • A competitive dude who works hard at all times
  • Really smart player who has an intelligent feel about him
  • Knows his role and is willing and accepting in order to help the team win
  • Really good in the open floor, where his basketball IQ flourishes as he’s great at filling lanes, cutting and playmaking 

Weaknesses

  • Mediocre athlete by NBA standards
  • Shooting needs to improve to consistently above league average at minimum for him to make potential reality
  • Want to see him tighten his handle to unlock more playmaking responsibilities
  • Gets tunnel vision offensively and defensively 
  • Extremely right-hand dominant both dribbling and finishing 

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