Deni Avdija Scouting Report: Top NBA Draft Prospect

2020 NBA Draft Prospect: Deni Avdija

D.O.B: January 3, 2001
Height: 6 foot 9
Weight: 210 lbs
Wingspan: 6 foot 9.5
Positional Role: Playmaking Forward
Current Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Offensive Synopsis

deni avdija
Deni Avdija is a versatile playmaking forward with an enormous upside. At only 19 years old, Deni was able to crack the rotation on a top 10 team in the Euroleague. As you can see above, his impact was minimal, but that does not discredit the abilities of Deni. At 6 foot 9, 210 lbs, Deni is an ideal size for an NBA small forward, which is his most natural position. However, in the current sprawl-ball era, that is the NBA, Deni will more than likely also be utilized as a stretch four and maybe even as a 2-guard in certain scenarios.

Shooting

For a forward, Deni has a very fluid jump shot. His mechanics are excellent, he gets elevation on his jump shot, high release point, and has the ability to get his shot off the dribble or in a catch and shoot scenario. He has three-point range but can really shoot it from anywhere on the court.

His shooting right now, unfortunately, is inconsistent. He is shooting the ball from a low percentage from 3 and is sometimes erratic in his shot selection. He is trigger happy and settles for jump shots a little too often. Hopefully, that gets cleaned up once he gets into the NBA.

https://twitter.com/deniavdia8/status/1264877703615918082?s=20

Transition

Deni is most dynamic in the open court. He loves to lead the break and is an excellent facilitator in transition. One of Deni’s best traits is his court vision. Deni sees the floor like a point guard and makes great decisions with the ball at such a young age. He is comfortable making tough bounce passes to cutters but is also excellent at making the first initial lead pass. His ability to find guys down the floor may not always lead to assists, but will definitely lead to scoring opportunities. If Deni is not leading the break, he will more than likely be sprinting down the floor looking for a scoring chance before the defense can recover.

Deni can finish above the rim and will do exactly than on a fast break. At the NBA level, Deni may not be able to finish quite as easily at the rim. He has a tendency to go up soft and finish with a layup which will not fly in the NBA with some of the most elite shot blockers. One thing Deni struggles with is embracing contact when attacking the rim. He tries to avoid contact when he should be doing the complete opposite. That may be a testament to his struggles at the free-throw line. Deni shoots below 60% from the charity stripe. His finishing at the rim will need to improve, but his playmaking will translate immediately in the NBA.

Half-Court Offense

In the half-court, Deni can do anything you need him to. Deni is great playing off the ball which is one of his best offensive traits. You will see constantly see him cutting to the basket or finding the open space on the floor for a spot-up jumper. He loves to shoot the corner three and can score from anywhere beyond the arc. His ability to score in catch and shoot scenarios helps space the floor and create better scoring opportunities. If he isn’t spotting up around the arc, Deni is probably setting off-ball screens or posting up smaller defenders once a mismatch has been achieved.

Deni has tremendous footwork down on the low block and can beat his defenders in a variety of ways. What makes Deni’s post-up game so special, however, is his ability to pass in the post. As soon as Deni gets the ball down low his head is up looking to make a pass to cutters or open shooters. At the NBA level, this will be a tremendous asset. Guys that can pass and score in the post are hard to come by, this makes him a true dual threat.

In the pick and roll, Deni excels as the ball handler. His decision making is advanced for his age and he is able to create an advantage for his team more often than not. If the defender goes under the screen, Deni will knock down the open three. If the defender chases behind the screen, Avdija does a great job attacking downhill, applying pressure on the defense, and creating a scoring opportunity. His patience needs some work at times. There are times where it would be more beneficial to keep his defender on his back and force the help defender to make a decision. He gets into the habit of attacking the rim even when it’s not there, but that is more of a maturity issue than anything else and shouldn’t concern NBA teams.

Shot Creator

Deni is also a very skilled shot creator for his age. He has numerous go-to combo-moves to create space against defenders and he can beat you in several different ways. If he feels as though he is a faster more explosive player, he will beat his man off the dribble and attack the rim. His first step is deceptively quick, and his change of speed with the ball is very good. If his defender is giving him space, Deni is just as comfortable taking step-back three’s. Avdija is even comfortable in the mid-range if he senses help defense at the rim. Floater and runners are also apart of his arsenal once he gets in the key and is met by a bigger defender. Deni can score any way from anywhere on the court, something that not a lot of players can say.

Deni’s handle needs work to create off the dribble more effectively. His handle isn’t bad, but it doesn’t look as fluid as some of the premier forwards in the NBA. If he wants to create separation off the dribble he’ll need to work on tightening his dribbling while incorporating body movement into his attack moves (head fakes, shoulder fakes, etc.).

IQ

Deni’s best offensive trait is something that actually can’t be measured, and that’s his IQ. You see this a lot from European prospects because the game is taught more technically out there. Deni’s offensive IQ is elite for his age. He consistently is making the correct reads and making plays to yield the best shot possible. He reads defenses like a 10-year veteran and adjusts on the fly. By giving Deni the opportunity to facilitate the offense, it gives coaches the ability to run plays for their best players off-ball.

Here are some of Deni’s best highlights from the 2019-2020  season.

Defensive Synopsis

Team Defender

Defensively, Deni has improved immensely over the last year. From year 1 to year 2 at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Deni has grown leaps and bounds as a team defender. His rotations as a help defender have gotten much better and his speed & length combination allows him to close out on shooters rather quickly. If his rotation leads him to the paint, Deni has a tendency to do something that coaches absolutely love. He jumps vertical and puts up his ‘volleyball arms’ to contest the shot at the rim. Sometimes this leads to a block, but most importantly, it makes the offensive player’s shot far more difficult. There are times when Avdija over helps and creates open opportunities elsewhere on the court and that is something he has to work on.

Individual Defense

As an individual, on-ball defender, Avdija’s length and speed make him solid in the Euroleague, but he may have some difficulty staying in front of the premier wing players in the NBA. His lateral quickness is good, not great. I can see him struggling early on when trying to guard opposing forwards.

Length & Strength

His length is definitely an asset when guarding small forwards, but he may need to add 10 lbs of muscle if he wants to be able to guard power forwards as well. Overall I think that Avdija will enter the NBA as an adequate defender with the potential to be a good defender.

Areas that Need Improvement

  • Finishing strong
  • Finishing with the left
  • Embracing contact
  • Ball Handling
  • Strength

Possible Outcomes

With European prospects being so unpredictable, it’s hard to say exactly what Deni Avdija will be like in the NBA. Judging by his skill set and potential, educated assumptions can be made.

Ceiling

Deni Avdija blossoms into a secondary playmaking star. Offensively, Deni’s IQ becomes so refined that teams are able to run an entire offense through him as a point forward. He adds some muscle, creates in the pick and roll, and starts to knock down the 3-ball more efficiently. He becomes more of a shot creator and is able to facilitate offense on his own. Ideally, if Deni lives up to his fullest potential, you could expect a more athletic Hedo Turkoglu who can play defense.

Normal Development

If Deni’s development is normal, Avdija will struggle to adjust in the first couple of years in the NBA but will eventually find his niche as a secondary playmaker and become a solid contributor in this league. Deni will most likely be asked to play stretch four in the current small-ball era which could actually improve his stock. A power forward who can knock down the deep ball, push in transition, and create in the half-court, is definitely an asset to have in the NBA. I can see Deni turning into a Chandler Parsons caliber player (before all the injuries) if he adds some muscle and becomes a more consistent shooter.

Floor

Unfortunately, there are players who simply do not live up to their potential. I do not think that Avdija is one of those guys, but to paint a picture of what that would look like, look no further than Mario Hezonja. Hezonja was a highly scouted prospect in his draft year, was selected very high, and had a similar skill set. To be honest I think Hezonja may have been even more polished entering the NBA. Hezonja wasn’t able to keep up on the defensive side of the ball despite his size and that is what scares me with Avdija as well. Although Deni shows glimpses of defensive promise, he will need to get faster and stronger to guard opposing forwards.

The Euroleague is home to so many fantastic athletes, but it’s no secret that the European game is focused on technique and finesse. The NBA adds a whole other element to that; athleticism. So although Deni is athletic for Europe, he is an average athlete in the NBA. If he wants to live up to the potential of a top 10 pick, he has to work on his athletic ability.

2019-20 Stats

MPG  PPGRPGAPGSPGBPGFG%3P%FT%TS%TOV%
14.342.61.20.50.243.627.75651.515.7

Deni’s stats aren’t that impressive at first glance, but you have to remember that he is 19 years old playing on one of the best teams in the Euroleague. Not everybody is Luka Doncic. The better statistic to measure Deni’s output is a Per 36 metric which shows what Deni’s numbers would be like if he played 36 minutes, relative to his output in his current minute per game average.

Per 36 stats: 10.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.9 PPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.8 TOV, 5 FPG

To me, the Per 36 minute stat will give you a better idea of what he is like on the floor. His five fouls per game tell me that he still lacks defensive discipline. That is a maturity issue. You see it all the time in young players. Biting on pump fakes, reaching in, trying to block shots; young players foul. Considering the IQ Deni has, I believe that he will outgrow that. Almost 2 TOV per game is concerning, but like the fouls, decision making will improve as he continues to mature as a basketball player. He is a 19-year-old playmaking forward, there are bound to be some bad decisions. His scoring and rebounding output is decent considering his age, and so the numbers aren’t great, but they aren’t terrible either.

I think what these numbers tell us for sure, it’s that you should pump the brakes if you think that this guy is the next Luka Doncic.  Deni won’t be Luka, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a solid player.

Unique Skill

The post-up is a trait that you rarely see in young players today because of how obsolete the post player has become. Deni’s ability to post-up can be utilized as a focal point of an offense and I believe that it should. Many people believe that the run and gun three-point era that we are currently in has made post-play unimportant, but that’s not the case with Avdija. Deni isn’t a post player, he is a player who excels in the post. He can score the ball down low, but I believe coaches will be more interested in running the offense through him where he will be the decision-maker.

To have someone on the low block who can create opens up so many more facets of the offense. Take Marc Gasol for example. Gasol can still be seen on the low block or at the elbow, but he isn’t looking to score. The play is run through Gasol because he has a high offensive IQ, can see over most of the defense, and is a capable passer for his size. Thus, the primary facilitators on the team (Lowry or Vanvleet) can focus on making an impact on scoring the ball. Although Deni isn’t a Center, the premise of creating plays from the low block remains a tool that can be utilized at the highest level.

Best Team Fit

Considering Deni’s draft stock, I think he will fall anywhere from 4-12. He isn’t quite as talented as guys like Anthony Edwards, Lamelo Ball, or Obi Toppin, but he is an elite prospect who definitely has a chance going top 5. With that being said, it would be beneficial to explore where he would fit the best. The draft selection will be determined solely on regular-season record. There will be a draft lottery, so things could change.

Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta HawksDeni would fit perfectly on teams with only one primary playmaker like the Atlanta Hawks with Trae Young. Currently, as their roster stands, they don’t have anyone who can create except for Young. You throw Avdija into the mix, Young now has the opportunity to play off-ball and use off-ball screens to get himself open, rather than creating off the dribble.

Right away he won’t be thrown into high-pressure scenarios because of how young the Hawks roster is. Nobody is expecting the Hawks to be relevant, but there are definitely some bright spots. Trae Young, John Collins, DeAndre Hunter, and Clint Capela are all young budding stars. It would also be beneficial to Avdija’s growth to surround him with young promising talents like Hunter, Reddish, and Huerter, so he has a healthy dose of competition throughout the season.

Currently, the Hawks have the fourth pick, and Avdija fits their roster better than any of the other players who are projected to go that high. With the addition of Clint Capela, they don’t need a Center, so James Wiseman doesn’t make much sense at 4. Killian Hayes and Tyrese Haliburton are talented, but the Hawks have their PG of the future. Deni at 4 is a real possibility.

San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio SpursIt is well known by now that the Spurs are one of the best organizations in basketball when it comes to finding and developing young talent. They teach unselfish, beautiful, basketball, something that Deni is already accustomed to in the Euroleague. That is why I think he would really thrive in San Antonio. Gregg Popovich is arguably the best coach of all time, so that doesn’t hurt either. Deni would fill the role as a secondary playmaker and a versatile scoring forward on a team with aging stars.

San Antonio could use an injection of youth and Avdija would be the answer. There is no team in the NBA that plays better system basketball than the Spurs. Not only would he be the best fit for the Spurs, but the Spurs would also be the best fit for him. Judging by the tweet below, it sounds like Deni already has a preference for playing with the Spurs.

The Spurs currently have the 11th pick in the draft so it’s unlikely that Deni falls to them, but stranger things have happened.

Overall

Overall, Deni is a unique prospect with so much upside and I would be shocked if he falls out of the top 10. Due to the uncertainty of European stars, he may fall out of the top 5, but there is too much potential to pass up after that. Deni is a versatile, 2-way player, with the ability to shoot the deep ball and create plays for his teammates. His basketball IQ is already elite at age 19, and he has all of the tools to succeed at the NBA level.

 

ScoringPassingIQSizeDefenseAthleticism
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I am a 25-year old independent basketball scout who has aspirations to one day work in the NBA. I am located in Toronto, Canada and grew up loving the Raptors. This sparked my interest in basketball and I haven't looked back since. Currently I am working as a Video and Analytics Co-ordinator for the Humber Hawks basketball team, while also scouting overseas for Ambassy International.

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