The Washington Wizards have selected Deni Avdija with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Avdija is now just the fourth Israeli-born player to reach the NBA, joining Omri Casspi, Gal Mekel and T.J. Leaf, and with this selection, he is easily the most highly-touted prospect from that group. Avdija spent the past two seasons with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, a Euroleague power, and while his individual numbers were underwhelming, the European model of deeper rotations and an added emphasis on veterans limited his upside abroad. In the NBA, he projects as a starter, and that will come with far more playing time.
Avdija is a jack-of-all-trades sort of prospect. He handles the ball well for his size, should survive defensively, can score from all over the floor and has a decent 3-point shot. Wings without true holes in their game are a rarity that is cherished in the modern, forward-heavy NBA. Avdija projects as the sort of prospect that should be able to contribute on just about any roster.
But as a jack-of-all-trades, Avdija is a master of none. He isn't a point guard-caliber ball-handler or passer, nor is he an elite shooter or defender. Avdija's path to stardom will involve finding a signature skill. His exact function on an NBA team is not yet clear, but his versatility will allow him to at least contribute from the moment he steps on the floor.
That immediate contribution will be important for a Washington team that wants to get back into the playoffs next season. The Wizards won't need him to be a primary creator with Bradley Beal and John Wall in place, but his secondary creation and defense should be important. Nobody expected Avdija to fall this far, but the Wizards got a gift in the form of one of the best wings in this draft class.
Draft Grade: B+
Most people I spoke with thought that Avdija was the best international prospect in this draft. I had Toppin ahead of Avdija, and many people in the NBA told me I was wrong for that. But here he was for the Wizards to grab him. There are some mixed reviews on Avdija coming from European scouts, but this makes sense because they probably weren't expecting him to be available.