Deni Avdija Rumors
The Cavs have met virtually with countless prospects, ranging all over the board. The front office has provided coaches with a specific film-breakdown list in anticipation of Nov. 18. Sources say those names have included Toppin, Auburn swingman Isaac Okoro, USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, Memphis’ James Wiseman and Israeli point-forward Deni Avdija.
The Warriors, on their barnstorming tour for draft prospects, have been to Atlanta and Miami, window shopping for the No. 2 pick. Sources said it’s a small traveling party: Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, Steve Kerr and director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini. In Atlanta, they watched the workout of Deni Avdija, who I highly doubt they take that high in the draft. But they did see something on this road trip, sources said, that would make them just fine with making a selection at No. 2. Two somethings actually. Anthony Edwards. James Wiseman. I put them in alphabetical order, so don’t get ahead of yourself. Word out of the workouts is that both of them were “beasts.”
Opinions vary on the 6’8″, 210-pound Avdija’s shooting and whether it’s a plus or a minus on the scouting report. Buying versus selling the jumper could significantly move the needle when projecting his future. This past season, he shot 27.7 percent from three in EuroLeague and 37.5 percent in the I-BSL, in which he played more (26.6 minutes) and averaged 1.3 makes per game.
Over the years, the results have been all over the place, particularly in FIBA: 28.6 percent during the 2019 U20s, 40.7 percent during the 2018 U20s, 34 percent during the 2017 U16s. In 33 games with Maccabi in 2018-19, he combined to shoot 27.7 percent from deep. The made shots have seemed pretty persuasive in terms of the eye test on his mechanics. If you never looked at his percentages, you would likely think he was a more natural shooter.
Thinking about taking Avdija in the top five means buying his FIBA performance and potential to develop into a player whom coaches can run offense through. A skeptic may point out that Avdija lacks wiggle and explosiveness. A believer may buy his ball-handling, IQ, passing skills and unselfishness.
The bigger question may concern shot creativity for himself. This past year, he relied mostly on transition, catch-and-shoot chances and cuts. He’s a driving threat as well as a comfortable finisher with his floater and layup packages. But no dribble-jumper game could limit his scoring potential and upside in general.