Why Hollinger skeptical about Warriors NBA draft target Avdija


The Warriors reportedly worked out and met with Deni Avdija last week in Atlanta.

"Not only did Avdija perform well in the workouts, but Warriors officials were blown away after meeting with him, "The Athletic's Ethan Strauss writes. The universal takeaway was that he’s a 'great kid' with an immense work ethic."

Some draft analysts view the Israeli-Serbian as a top-five talent in this year's class, but The Athletic's John Hollinger has him at No. 16 on his big board.

"I struggle to get too excited about him," Hollinger recently said on "Chad Ford's NBA Big Board" podcast. "I just don't think the quality of the league is very good. I'm debating whether I had him too low just from the perspective that he's big and can handle the ball. He has (those) two things going for him right away.

"But I also think he has to be able to shoot. I don't think he has a pathway to being a high-level NBA player without being a good shooter. And right now he's not. That's a little troublesome for me."

Avdija, who will turn 20 years old Jan. 3, averaged 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists over 33 games last season in the Israeli Basketball Premier League. He shot 52.6 percent overall, 35.3 percent from deep and became the youngest MVP in league history.

But in 26 Euroleague games, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists across 14.3 minutes, while shooting below 28 percent from 3-point territory.


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It's that production that somewhat concerns Hollinger. And Ford has some of the same feelings.

"There's hype around this international player. Everybody loves his approach to the game," Ford said. "He's ultra aggressive, he's super confident, there is that sort of 'it swagger' to his game.

"(But) that's exactly right -- to excel in the NBA, he has to be a good 3-point shooter. He is definitely in the conversation with teams as high as four, five and six. I didn't really find any team that has him out of the top 10."

Former Golden State forward Omri Casspi was teammates with Avdija on Maccabi Tel Aviv, and very much hopes his fellow countryman ends up playing for coach Steve Kerr.

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"The system with the Warriors, the way they play, everyone reads the game, everyone can make plays, flow offense," Casspi explained last week on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast with NBC Sports Bay Area's Grant Liffmann. "He can really help. It especially fits his style of basketball, that's his game.

"He wants to be a guy that makes plays. He can make plays from the four position, like a point-forward type game. I think he wants to be somewhere where he can be a little bit of a ballhandler, bring the ball up, running the offense. 

"It would be a great place for him to learn, there are great vets, being with Steph [Curry], [Draymond Green], Klay [Thompson], there are so many guys to learn from."

Perhaps the Warriors trade down and are able to land Avdija later in the lottery.

We will find out Nov. 18.

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