Warriors

Report: Warriors 'higher on' Avdija than LaMelo in NBA draft

Warriors

The Warriors have a big decision to make on Nov. 18 when they have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. In a class without a generational talent, the Warriors must find a prospect who both can help them win now and possibly grow into one of the next faces of the franchise.

While LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards are seen as the top three prospects in the class, the Warriors reportedly could have their eye on a different young star who is expected to go in the lottery.

On Friday, The San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau reported, citing league sources, that the Warriors are "higher on" Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija than they are on Ball and "possibly" Wiseman.

This shouldn't be all that surprising. Without a consensus top pick, every team's draft board will look different.

Avdija, 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, is a versatile forward who can defend multiple positions, create in transition and has impressive athleticism. His most desirable trait is his vision and playmaking ability. He has a high basketball IQ and great feel for the game which gives him the ability to create offense with the ball in his hands or off the ball by taking advantage of defensive lapses with back cuts and screen slips.

It's easy to see why the Warriors would be interested in Avdija. They reportedly have flown to Israel to scout him multiple times. His versatility and feel for the game should make him a good fit for Steve Kerr's ball movement offense.

 

While his 3-point shot (27.7 percent in 26 EuroLeague games) might need some finetuning, Avdija would give the Warriors a young forward with a unique blend of skills who could be a big asset in their quest to return to the NBA Finals.

With his ability to create offense both on and off the ball, Avdija has the skills to play in a small-ball lineup alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, and also could be a secondary ball-handler when Curry is off the court, something the Warriors have been looking for since Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston left.

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Ball never appeared to be a fit with the Warriors. His inefficient offensive game and defensive lapses are warts the Warriors likely won't want to deal with as they look to rebound quickly after a year at the bottom of the standings. Wiseman, who was projected to be the No. 1 pick when the college basketball season began, would give the Warriors a young, athletic center who can score in a variety of ways and impact the game on the defensive end, so he should remain in strong consideration if the Warriors pick at No. 2.

If the Warriors are high on Avdija, they could be able to trade down a few spots, collect an extra asset and still get their guy. Adding a 6-foot-9 forward who can create for others and score on his own is something that would undoubtedly appeal to Kerr and the Warriors.

In a draft without a clear-cut favorite, Avdija has a high floor and could blossom into a star with the right coaching.