(First posted at RealGM)
Deni Avdija is coming off a season where he got to experience the pro level for the first time – logging 349 minutes with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli BSL and the Euroleague, while also spending parts of the year with the junior squad participating in a couple of stages of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament.
As a pro, the six-foot-eight combo forward acted more as a floor-spacer with little shot creation responsibility. Though he’s shown some versatility in his release, in terms of being able to take shots off light movement, Avdija is more of a shot taker than a shot maker at this point of his development.
He 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 on his shot but the ball isn’t going in at a decent clip yet, as Avdija missed 72.3% of his 130 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 8.1 such attempts per 40 minutes.
This summer, the 18-year-old led the Isreali National Team to the title of the FIBA U20 European Championship in home soil, matching up against players on average a year-and-a-half older than him.
He was the focal point of the offense – logging 28.6% usage rate and 27.6% assist rate in the event, with the chance to create on post-ups, in isolation and middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense.
His court vision stood out, as Avdija can see over the top in a crowd and impressed with his dexterity delivering passes in a multitude of ways – with his back-to-the-basket to the opposite wing, with skip passes to the stretch big in the pick-and-pop, with darts to shooters sprinting to the corner in transition and with well-timed jump-passes to the roll man.
He wasn’t as impressive as a scorer, though. His average of 22.8 points per 40 minutes was achieved on just 48.6% effective shooting. There were some glimpses of three-level of scoring, as Avdija made pull-ups against the on-ball defenders going under the screen in pick-and-roll, flashed the ability to over-extend finishing around rim protectors and flashed a floater to score from the in-between area.
But he doesn’t have a quick first step, is not particularly fast with the ball, has a fairly basic handle for the most part and hasn’t yet developed advanced footwork to get his pull-ups off via step-backs or side-steps. Avdija is not very shifty, looks to gallop into two-foot leaps in traffic and hasn’t shown much body flexibility to adjust himself mid-air in a crowd.
With that as the case, the most developed dimension of his scoring profile is his post-up, as he’s shown an arsenal of moves operating 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.
On the other end, Avdija does not project as an ace defender capable of picking up star opponents for the entire game but impressed with his awareness as a help defender and proved himself capable of hanging with smaller players out in space from time-to-time.
He was particularly impressive with his activity rotating off the weakside and surprised with his quick leaping ability off two feet to not only challenge shots via verticality but act as a constant shot blocking threat as well – averaging 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes at the U20 European Championship.
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