Deni Avdija Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Top-ranked prospect with European ties born in 2001[1];
  • Beit Zera native who has been developed in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth system since the age of 13;
    • Logged 349 minutes with the senior team in the Israeli BSL and the Euroleague last season but also spent parts of the year with the junior squad in a couple of stages of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament[2];
  • Turned 18 in January[3];
  • Combo forward listed at six-foot-eight, 210 pounds;
    • Measured with a six-foot-nine wingspan at the 2018 Basketball Without Borders[4];
  • Just led the Israeli National Team to a title at the FIBA U20 European Championship in home soil – going against players on average a-year-and-a-half older than him;
    • Statistical profile in that event: 26.8 PER, 22.7 points per 40 minutes on 48.6% effective shooting, 27.6% assist rate, 22.8% defensive rebounding rate, 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes, 2.6 steals per 40 minutes in 227 minutes;
    • Named MVP of the tournament;
  • Played as more of a floor-spacer with little shot creation responsibility with Maccabi at the senior level but was the focal point of the offense with the Israeli U20 squad last month;
    • Logged 28.6% usage rate;
  • Showed he can create decent separation for pull-ups out of pick-and-roll and in isolation against a set defense + took some catch-and-shoot three-pointers on the move as well;
    • Capable shot maker but the efficiency within those roles wasn’t really there and it’s questionable if that sort of dynamism can translate if asked to play that same role against tougher levels of competition;
  • Might be best suited for a role as a connective tissue, considering his court vision is his most developed feature on offense but he lacks the speed and the efficiency working on the ball to project in a role as shot creator against tougher levels of competition;
  • Did interesting things on defense at the U20 Euros: switched a lot and exceled as a help defender;
    • Proved himself capable of hanging with smaller players out in space and made a lot of plays off rotations – both while creating events and in the hidden areas of the game;
  • Slotted fifth on ESPN’s way-too-early 2020 mock draft released prior to the summer events.

PASSING

  • The versatility of his passing consistently stands out, as Avdija has shown impressive court vision in transition, in middle high pick-and-roll and with his back-to-the-basket;
    • Assisted on 27.6% of Israel’s scores when he was on the floor at the U20 European Championship, though with a merely so-so 1.85 assist-to-turnover rate;
  • Pushing the ball up the court on a grab-and-go off a defensive rebound, he’s shown dexterity on outlet passes, throwing darts to a shooter sprinting to the wing or the corner and tossing a skip pass to a trailer joining the offense late;
  • Rarely turns the corner and attacks the lane off a ball-screen but can drop-off off engaging the last line of defense or use his length for wraparound bounce passes when he does get deep dribble penetration;
  • Hits the roll man over the top with great timing but tends to impress more with shovel or skip passes to the stretch big in pick-and-pop;
  • Sees over the crowd very well and consistently looks for the shooter spot-up or drifting around the opposite wing on post-ups.

SCORING OFF THE BALL

  • Volume shooter off the catch but more of a shot taker than a shot maker right now;
    • Nailed just 27.7% of his 130 three-point shots in 51 total appearances with Maccabi last season (combining the senior and junior levels), at a pace of 8.1 such attempts per 40 minutes;
    • Nailed just 28.6% of his 42 three-point shots at the U20 European Championship, at a pace of 7.4 such attempts per 40 minutes;
  • Besides basic spot-ups, took shots on the move as well – off pindown screens, as the trailer in transition, on handoffs and as the deep screener in Spain pick-and-roll;
    • Doesn’t sprint in these actions, though – mostly jogs;
  • Has a fluid shooting motion, fully extends himself for a high release, rises in good balance, doesn’t need to dip for rhythm and tends to get a good arc and a good spin on his shots;
  • Questions remain over his natural touch, though;
    • Shot just 51.2% on 82 foul shots last season;
    • Shot just 60% on 45 foul shots last month.

SCORING ON THE BALL

  • Acted as a little bit of a ball stopper at times;
  • Can make a pull-up three-pointer against opponents going under or getting stuck in the screen in pick-and-roll but didn’t impress much in terms of getting to his spots operating off a pick;
    • Might have some potential as an ace scorer if he manages to develop dexterity snaking the pick-and-roll;
  • Rarely turns the corner and attacks the lane in pick-and-roll – doesn’t have a lot of speed with the ball but can mix in a hesitation move to get the defender on his side;
    • Flashed some explosiveness elevating off one foot with space to load up but looks to gallop into two-foot leaps in traffic;
    • More of an up-and-down finisher in the sense that he hasn’t yet shown a lot of flexibility to adjust himself mid-air;
    • Can overextend for scoop finishes with either hand but has only shown so-so touch in a crowd;
    • Flashed a floater off a jump-stop;
    • Earned 7.9 foul shots per 40 minutes in this tournament;
  • Doesn’t have a quick first step in isolation and rarely gets all the way to the basket one-on-one but can create separation for his pull-ups via craft;
    • Struggled badly when guarded by Usman Garuba in the Munich qualifier of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament last season;
    • Has a bit of a stiff posture and isn’t very shifty but has flashed some side-to-side and stop-and-start suddenness;
    • Despite underdeveloped upper body strength, can play through contact some and tends to get the benefit of the whistle;
    • Can go between-the-legs into a pull-up but didn’t really flash particularly advanced footwork in terms of step-backs and side-steps;
  • Posted up smaller players and weaker wings somewhat regularly in this tournament;
    • Showed glimpses of a versatile scoring package with his back to the basket – patient approach, power moves to back his way into short toss-ins, head fakes to bait his man out of position and short turnaround jumpers over the defender.

HELP DEFENSE

  • Impact player as a help-defender at the youth level;
  • Active rotating off the weakside – not just to help crowd the area near the basket but to make plays as well;
    • Impressed with quick leaping ability off one and two feet to challenge shots via verticality and act as a shot blocking threat – averaging 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes at the U20 European Championship;
    • Sometimes to a fault, though – prone to help off the strongside in somewhat reckless fashion;
  • Executes the scheme pretty well: picks up the roll man, clogs driving lanes by getting his hands on the ball from the side and made some plays jumping passing lanes too;
    • Averaged 2.6 steals per 40 minutes last month;
  • Did a generally poor work with his closeouts in this event;
    • Lacks the footspeed to run shooters off the line regularly;
    • Didn’t show great body control on hard closeouts to stop his momentum without crashing into shooters;
    • Can stay attached against less aggressive shooters putting the ball on the floor but didn’t show the combination of quickness and physicality needed to contain;
  • Didn’t help the helper with boxouts and generally didn’t involve himself on scrums but flew to the ball pretty well;
    • Collected 22.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

SWITCH DEFENSE

  • Picked up smaller players on switches regularly and held up reasonably well out in space against this level of competition;
    • Doesn’t bend his knees to get down in a stance, has more of a hunched posture defending out on an island;
    • Can slide laterally with good agility to stay in front and flashed some toughness containing dribble penetration through contact against smaller guards;
    • Needs to become more active guarding with his arms up to discourage shots, rather than just reacting to contest them;
  • Doesn’t seem suited to crossmatch onto smaller players regularly – hasn’t shown the sort of quickness to tenacity needed to navigate screens and hustle in pursuit.

[1] According to Eurospects

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 1/3/2001

[4] According to Eurospects

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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