NBA Draft Bio: Deni Avdija

Deni Avdija, the Serbian-Israeli Forward from Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Basketball Premier League is being projected as a high lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Below, we take a look into how he became a top prospect, his strengths, weaknesses and an overall projection as an NBA player.

Road to the Draft

The 19 year old Avdija has been in the Maccabi Tel Aviv system since he was 8 years old, playing for the youth team starting in 2013. He made the jump to the Israeli powerhouse senior team in 2017, at age 16. He was born into a basketball family, as his father Zufar was a 6’8” forward from Belgrade, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) and played for domestic powerhouse Red Star, as well as captaining Yugoslavia to a Bronze medal at the 1982 FIBA World Championships. The younger Avdija has earned a number of accolades on the European scene: MVP of the 2019 FIBA U20 European Championships, Regular Season MVP for the 2019-20 Israeli Basketball Premier League as well as being named to the All-League team. 


At 6'9", 225 lbs. Avdija has Point Guard skills with Power Forward size. He's an efficient playmaker in the pick-and-roll game, and has excellent vision and timing, which allows him the ability to make any pass in the book. When leading the fast break, he's a capable ball handler who reads the court well and makes the correct read. Already a professional for 2 years, he shows toughness and competitiveness - he battles on the glass and tries to fight through screens on the defensive end. He makes excellent cuts off the ball, and can finish in tight at the basket with both hands, showing an array of floaters, bank shots and crafty reverses.


Avdija is an average athlete, without any real explosiveness to his game - although he has been able to overcome that so far in his career due to his high basketball IQ. This may not work for him in the NBA, as he hasn't shown the ability to always get a quality shot off the dribble. His shot needs a lot of work, as he hit just 31.6% from 3, and 60% from the free throw line in his time at Maccabi. His mechanically weak shot has been worked on repeatedly, which can result in an inconsistent outcome. Defensively, he's not a threat to block shots or get a ton of steals, although overall he should be considered a decent defender. 

Overall Outlook

Avdija is generating hype as one of the most highly touted Europeans in recent memory. Where can his game take him? We'll give credit to Alex Novick (@ANov_SNfor the following take: 

A tough point-forward with creativity as a playmaker, can lead in transition and has a jumper to keep the defense honest. Not overly explosive, but possessing the length, footspeed and IQ to be a strong rebounder and disrupter on the defensive end. A heady player with intangibles to his game that can elevate the ceiling of whatever team he's on. If that portrayal sounds familiar, it's probably because you've read something similar lately within a scouting report on Deni Avdija. While it's an accurate profile of the Israeli-Serbian, it's also a description of two-time NBA champion Lamar Odom.

If Avdija can put together a career like Odom, with a couple of championships, everyone will be happy. 

vi   Photo Credit: Passion2Press/Imago/Icon Sportswire