High lottery prospect Deni Avdija won’t fall in the OKC Thunder range but his media session showcased a humble prospect prepared to work hard.
With the 25th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the OKC Thunder won’t necessarily be looking at prospects such as Deni Avdija who played with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. However, this youngster offered a refreshing zoon session with the media. With so many draft picks accumulated in the coming years and with the Thunder in need of building up their wing depth, he is certainly someone Sam Presti and his scouting crew should take the time to look at and decide if he’s worth trading up for.
Avdija will undoubtedly be the highest non-American player selected and his time spent with his current team and on the Israel National team have netted a solid player with all-around fundamental skills.
His statistics with Maccabi won’t push you over but it’s important to note this was a team featuring NBA talents such as A’mare Stoudemire and other professionals. Avdija played the past two seasons on this squad more than doubling his playing time this season.
Highlights from Deni Avdija media session:
The first impression fans will get from Avdija is how humble and nice he is. Repeatedly he referred to the need to improve and thanked everyone after each question. It was a stark contrast to many of the youngsters we’ve witnessed so far who couldn’t wait to sell their assets.
For example, view the preview of LaMelo Ball that T.I. posted and then watch this full session on the NBA official site and you’ll note how different the youngster’s interactions were.
Hasn’t spoken to any teams
Like all the sessions journalists were asking which teams the 19-year old had interviewed with. However, unlike any previous sessions, Avdija said he has not spoken to any clubs. This could be because his meetings have been planned for later in the combine or perhaps he isn’t fully aware of who his agent has spoken to.
Humility and hard work define Avdija:
The overriding message that rang true with the wingman was how humble he is. Notably, he wasn’t keen to discuss his game, preferring to emphasize how hard he is willing to work to become a better player. More than once, he spoke of how he’ll do whatever the team who drafts him wants him to and how he’ll work hard to fulfill whatever role he is given.
The lone compliment he offered of himself was that he’s a good teammate.
He is open to playing for any team and cited how honored he will be to join the NBA. He did say he can play one through four at the NBA level which speaks to his versatility. Again, however, he followed that point with“It’s not about me, it’s about what the team really needs.”
Comparison and interaction with NBA players:
Asked who he feels his game resembles or who he watches Avdija doesn’t have one player he tries to emulate. Rather, he noted he watches tons of film and pays particular attention to international players to see how they’ve navigated adjusting to the NBA game.
Avdija also is keen to review film of himself to learn from his mistakes and often had coaches pull specific game segments to point out his mistakes.
The Maccabi wing said he asked his teammates with NBA experience like Stoudemire lots of questions and joked he probably asked too many questions.
On his comparison to Luka while he noted they followed a similar path he was quick to state how great a player Doncic is but they have their own path and skills which will make them different.
In one of the few moments in the session where Deni spoke about his successes, he tied it back to the team citing the under 20 Israel team who won back to back gold medals and how the Maccabi team finished in the top eight the past two seasons.
Avdija touched on meeting Gregg Popovich stating how important the NBA global vision is and called the Spurs organization impressive.
Growth – assets:
Once again, the youngster was quick to state he wants to improve every aspect of his game and enjoys learning something new every day. His focus will be to deliver the needs as outlined to him from his drafting team.
One insight he did offer was tied to confidence and hard work. He was asked about his 3-point shooting and his free throw shooting both of which experienced fluctuations. Deni noted his shot improved as he became more confident and felt his coach and teammates trusted him. As for his free throw shot, he stated even if it requires him to stay until midnight in the gym and shoot 3,000 free throws to achieve an over 70 percent efficiency he’s committed to doing that.
Two closing thoughts resonated — one was he wants to win stating he finds it really hard to lose. That’s typical of most NBA players but after playing with Maccabi and where he’s ranked to be selected the youngster may be headed for a lottery squad who’ll be losing a lot.
And finally, he’s likely to be the highest-ever drafted Jewish player and is thrilled at that prospect and hopes to make everyone proud.
T.I. will dive more into Avdija in our draft prospect previews, but suffice to say this a young man who any team will benefit from given his fundamental skillset and his very likable and humble nature.
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