In most mock drafts, Deni Avdija looked to be the best fit and selection at number 4 for the Bulls. This started to change closer to the draft when the Bulls expressed serious interest in Patrick Williams. Well, that's who they ended up picking, and Avdija fell to the Wizards at number 9. The Wizards, similar to the Bulls are looking towards a brighter future. Adding Deni Avdija to their group of guys just adds to the excitement.
Avdija is certainly an offensive player, but with the stats not showing the realistic side of him, which segments of Avdija's game can we pick apart and analyze? First off, he is a great off-ball hustler and can move with purpose, which is crucial in the NBA. Almost like a running back, Avdija can see the spacing between the defense and slip right in between the seams for an easy basket. Although he may not look like the most muscular athlete on the court, Avdija can flourish in the paint, and he has in the Euro-League. He is a solidified finisher through contact and also has a high passing IQ when in the post. To add on top of this, he is a very energetic player. He plays with a lot of heart and gives it his all when he's on the court. The big question that's going around about Avdija is his shooting. Despite having poor shooting percentages from three, a little over 91% of his shots came from there. Avdija has terrific form, and with his high release point, it will make it difficult for defenders to block his shot. Avdija is a spot up and dribble handoff type shooter. When he gets to shooting on the move and shooting off the dribble, that's where he starts to struggle. To give a more exact number, he shot 22.9% from the field on off the dribble situations. With that considered, as a coach, I would be a little concerned. Poor shooting off the dribble means that a player cannot create his own shot, and is more or less forced to take shots strictly off the catch. From the free throw line, Avdija's struggles continue at the free throw line, where he fought to shoot 60% from the line in FIBA U20 for the first time in his career.
I've watched some film of Deni Avdija, and I've noticed that when he's given the opportunity to facilitate the team, he struggles with pace and ball handling. Too frequently, he would unnecessarily speed things up for no apparent reason. This would force him into situations where it is more difficult for him to make an acceptable decision. A major factor why this is happening is simply due to his lack of playing time, but if he wants to make it in the NBA, ball handling will need to be a top priority along with his defense. Another concerning component I noticed is his play under heavy pressure. Real NBA players can deal with contact, and it was obvious that Avdija wilted under pressure. Avdija also doesn't like to go to his left hand and it often seems as if he refuses to use it. Left hand dribbling and finishing in the NBA is pivotal and he will need to get his left hand in the game.
On the defensive end, he knows the areas of his game he needs to work on. His muscle mass and explosiveness will always keep him from becoming a respectable defender. While he is in the NBA, Avdija might very well likely get targeted as the liability on defense, especially in pick and rolls. This is when we have to state his age again. At only 19, he has so much room to grow both on offense and defense, but he will need to take defense as a higher priority.
Deni Avdija fans, I know it feels like I just disparaged him, but Avdija is just one of those players that are so close to becoming a great player, and he's not there yet. Avdija, however, is very serious about getting better, and I don't have any concerns about his work ethic and the amount of work he put in. That skepticism can be saved for Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball, but I know that Avdija will put in the work and effort to become the best basketball player he can be.
As for a player comparison, right at this moment, I would compare him to Dario Saric. Whether he goes above or below that comparison is up to how much he develops before the season.