- This is the fifth installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Golden State Warriors with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The 2020 NBA Draft still is seven weeks away and the rumor mill only is going to heat up. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Warriors are in a strong position to land an impact player, although there is no consensus top tier.
That means that Golden State is going to have options. Do they want a big man that needs a year or two to develop like James Wiseman? Do they want a defensive stalwart at the wing like Isaac Okoro? Would they gamble on a player like LaMelo Ball or Obi Toppin with the No. 2 selection, or Anthony Edwards if he slips?
There are more questions than answers, but another option is small forward Deni Avdija out of Israel, who is turning heads with his advanced offensive skill set and court vision. Like the other prospects at the top end of this year’s draft, he has holes in his game, but there is a lot to like from the 19-year-old.
Here is a look at some of the positives and negatives surrounding Avdija, as well as how he might fit with the Warriors.
Stats: 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, .7 blocks, 50.5% FG, 33.3% 3-pt
Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-9 Weight: 225 Wingspan: 6-foot-10
Stats are difficult to translate from EuroLeague to NCAA or NBA, but the film on Avdija is impressive. He isn’t a super athlete and his 6-foot-10 wingspan is solid, but not spectacular, but he has a solid frame room to get stronger.
He also has played against professional competition in Europe for the last few seasons and he understands the physical game that is coming in the NBA.
Avdija doesn’t have great hip swivel and his vertical isn’t off the charts, but he can get up and down the court and he’s big enough to defend either forward position. He needs to work on his body, but that’s what an NBA training staff is for.
Avdija is a smooth, savvy playmaker at the wing. He creates for his teammates and should develop into a very good distributor for a forward.
He’s crafty in the pick-and-roll, both as an initiator and as the roll man. He can score in the post and even back down smaller defenders. Avdija also has a soft touch around the rim although his range still is yet to be defined.
While his 3-point shot is a work in progress, he managed to hit on 33.3 percent this season, including 47 percent from the corners. His mechanics are solid, especially off the catch and shoot.
On the defensive side of the ball, he’s solid as a team team defender and has improved his toughness. He has a strong motor and quick hands, although his athletic limitations likely will stop him from being anything more than an average individual defender.
Per 36 minutes, he posted 7.7 rebounds per game, which is solid for his position. It’s tough to completely buy in on those numbers because of the small sample size, but he’s a smart player that uses his instincts over relying on incredible physical gifts.
He does not project as a knock down perimeter shooter and his midrange game is almost non-existent. Avdija has decent mechanics and he’s a hard worker, but betting on major improvement from three is tough, especially when you factor in his free throw shooting.
Avdija hit just 58.8 percent from the stripe. Like the rest of his stats, the sample size is small and he needs to learn to play through contact better, but there is concern about his touch as a shooter outside of the key.
Defensively, he can block shots and pick up some steals, but he lacks elite lateral quickness and length. He might not be a sieve on the defensive end, but he also won’t be someone put on the opponents best offensive player.
While Avdija’s played professionally in Israel, he is still going to need time to develop, like every other prospect coming into the draft. He has a high ceiling, but there are other options with more potential, although at a higher risk.
Fit with Warriors
Who doesn’t fit with the Warriors?
When you have great shooters, it makes the game look easy and the Warriors have two of the greatest of all time. Avdija would work perfectly with this group as a high basketball IQ cutter and distributor as a forward.
He’ll hide in the corner and hit 3-pointers, but his real value comes as a secondary distributor and as runner on the break.
Avdija doesn't look like a superstar in the making, which you would like to land with a No. 2 overall pick, but that is how this draft is shaping up.
In Year 1, he might be able to slide into a lineup at the three for Golden State and allow Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins to all play off the ball for stretches.
He won’t be perfect on the defensive end, he’ll hold his own and his ability to defend both forward positions adds a new wrinkle to the Warriors.
This is a fiery competitor that plays to win and makes his teammates better.
Gordon Hayward, Sean Elliott