Deni Avdija is a lottery prospect who was born in Israel and has been playing for the fabled Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise since 2017. He's a 6'9" forward who grew up around the game as the son of former player Zufer Avdija, and has a special level of feel for the game. Because of his high skill level and hoops IQ, many see similarities in his game to fellow European standouts Danilo Gallinari, Hedo Turkoglu, and Nic Batum (well... former standout?).
Unfortunately, our model vehemently disagrees:
- Avdija is a strong rebounder for a wing, grading as a 64/100, good for the 82nd percentile amongst wings. This lines up with the scouting report on him, in that he's a player with a good motor. Rebounding, especially for non-bigs, is a good indicator of effort.
- He took good care of the ball, only turning it over 1.8 times per 36 (76th percentile for wings). This is especially impressive considering he did more playmaking than many other wings who are just standstill shooters.
- He's an above average creator on offense, putting up 2.9 assists per 36 (66th percent for wings)
- He's young, especially for being so experienced at the pro level. Avdija would've been 19.8 years old as of the original night of the draft, making him the 16th youngest player in this draft.
- He played against the best non-NBA competition in the world in the EuroLeague. The stats that we used for Avdija is from the same league that Luka Doncic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Bogdan Bodanovic, and others all recently thrived in before their successful NBA careers
- He shot the ball terribly from deep. He only made 28% of his 4.6 attempts from three per 36. That abysmal percentage puts him in the 9th percentile for wings. Even worse was his free throw shooting, where he shot 56% (3rd percentile amongst wings).
- He shows no sign of being a scorer in the NBA. He averaged only 10.2 points per 36 (2nd percentile for wings), and never gets to the line (1.7 attempts per 36, 3rd percentile for wings). He doesn't have a scorer's mentality (only 9.1 shot attempts per 36, 5th percentile for wings), nor does he score efficiently (52% True Shooting, 9th percentile for wings).
- He does not project as an impactful defender. He averaged 0.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per 36. Batching those together as deflections, his 1.6 per 36 puts him in the 30th percentile for wings.
- Our sample size here, 26 games, is reasonable, so there's not much of a possibility that Avdija was just on a cold streak that's deflated his grades
Considering all of the hype around Avdija and him being placed as high as #2 in mocks at the moment, I had much higher hopes for how he would project in our model. He certainly has moments on tape where you can see how a team might fall in love with him, but a quick glance at his stats in the EuroLeague surfaces red flag after red flag.
Our model isn't perfect, and especially with this being the first year we've been able to include European players in our modeling, our results should absolutely be taken with a grain of salt. However, for EuroLeague players it flagged Dragan Bender (67/100 overall grade) as having major bust potential while identifying Luka Doncic (96/100 overall grade) as a potential star and Bodgan Bogdanovic (86/100 overall grade) as a steal. Avdija is squarely in the Bender range with his 70/100 overall grade.
Avdija seems like a nice kid, and one who can be fun to watch, so I'd love to see him succeed in the NBA. Unfortunately, all signs point to him being a major bust. If he doesn't score, can't shoot, and isn't a noteworthy defender, what does he bring to the table? Look for him to have a career similar to another former EuroLeague prospect, Jan Vesely (74/100 overall grade in our model), flaming out as a high pick before leaving the NBA to return to a European team.
- Our Comp: Dario Saric
- Suggested Draft Range: late First Round
- Immediate Impact: Moderate (glue guy)
- Long Term Potential: Moderate (low end starter, 12 / 6 / 4 averages)