There are some easy parallels to draw between 2020 NBA Draft prospect Deni Avdija and Mavs star Luka Doncic, as both are versatile plamakers of similar size and each of them entered the draft after playing in the EuroLeague. Avdija, though, would appreciate if people stopped comparing him to one of the best players in the NBA.
Avdija downplayed the connection in a videoconference with reporters as part of the NBA Draft Combine.
"I just want to make it clear that he's a great player and he has his own path and skills and I have my own path and skills," Avdija said. "I have my own abilities; the goods and the bads. I just want to be the best Deni Avdija I can be. I just don't want to be compared to anybody."
Avdija didn't go into further detail, though it's easy to see why he would want to measure expectations given Doncic's unusual success so far. This season, Doncic became just the third player Age 21 or younger to averaged at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season. The other two are Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Doncic dominated the EuroLeague before making the leap to the NBA. He was the league's MVP and Finals MVP in 2018. Avdija, meanwhile, averaged only 4.6 points per game while playing in the EuroLeague this past season.
That suggests he will take more time to develop than Doncic has. Avdija also isn't sure his role in the NBA will resemble what Doncic does for Dallas.
"Honestly, I can play one through four but it's not about me, it's about what the team really needs and what the coach really wants me to play. I will play and I will do the best I can," Avdija said.
Avdija has shown up in mock drafts everywhere from the third pick to the back-end of the top-10. Doncic had more hype coming into the draft and ended up being picked third overall. Whether the Doncic comparisons persist could depend on where Avdija is selected.
But even if he is taken with with a high pick, maybe it's time to find another player to compare Avdija to.