Wizards

5 things to know about Wizards draft pick Deni Avdija

Wizards

The Washington Wizards have selected small forward Deni Avdija with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Here are five things to know about the newest member of the Wizards...

1. Avdija's father, Zufer, was a professional basketball player.

Deni Avdija, 19, isn't the first professional basketball player in his family, as his father, Zufer, enjoyed a decade-plus-long career in Europe.

Zufer Avdija played for multiple clubs in the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s, including Crvena zvezda in the Yugoslav Basketball League and a flurry of teams in the Israeli league.

2. Deni Avdija spent the last two seasons playing in the EuroLeague.

Having played two seasons in the EuroLeague prior to entering the NBA Draft, Avdija has more professional experience than most other players in the class. 

Avdija didn't necessarily dominate overseas; he was a role player for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel's top club. In 34 games with the team, Avdija started just five games and averaged a mere four points per game.

Avdija's strength is his offensive game, and the Wizards' top pick does fill a need at the small forward position. It remains to be seen how many minutes he'll get early on, however.

3. Avdija is the fourth NBA player to be born in Israel.

Avdija joins Omri Casspi, T.J. Leaf and Gal Mekel as Israeli-born players to have played in the NBA, all of which have entered the league after 2010.

Casspi, a 10-year veteran, has had the most success of the three prior. Leaf, a first-round pick in 2017, is still trying to find his footing.

 

If Avdija lives up to the hype he's garnered pre-draft, he has the chance to be the best Israeli basketball player in NBA history.

4. Avdija is a member of the Israeli national team.

Unlike many NBA draftees, Avdija has had experience playing for a national team, having been called up to the Israeli national team last year.

Prior to joining the national team last February, Avdija starred for the junior team and led Israel to back-to-back gold medals at the FIBA U20 European Championship in Tel Aviv.

5. Wizards have followed and scouted Avdija for years.

Shortly after the Wizards selected Avdija, general manager Tommy Sheppard told local media that the team's scouts have been following Avdija since he was 16 years old. 

So, while Avdija may not have been pegged to Washington in many mock drafts, Washington had the Israeli product high on their draft board and pounced at the opportunity to snag him.