Deni Avdija may end up being the best player from the 2020 NBA Draft class. At 19 year old, he'll enter the NBA as one of the most hyped international stars in the last 10 years.
Expectations will be high for Avdija wherever he ends up being selected on Nov. 18, so we asked our NBA.com staff to try and find a ceiling for the young Israeli prospect.
Here's what they had to say.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): Sometimes, situation is everything when evaluating if a draft prospect will hit their ceiling or not. I think in the right situation, Avdija could be the next Detlef Schrempf.
By the time Schrempf ended his 16 year NBA career he was a two-time Sixth Man of the Year winner, a three-time NBA All-Star and was All-NBA in 1994-95. Back in April, we ranked the best players of the 90s, and while Schrempf didn't crack the list, he was among the honourable mentions. Schrempf finished the decade 10th in win shares and was an efficient, durable force in the 90s for the Indiana Pacers and Seattle SuperSonics.
Avdija won't be a go-to superstar, he probably won't reach the stardom of a Luka Doncic or Nikola Jokic, but he'll be a winner and key contributor to winning basketball for double-digit years in the league just like Schrempf was.
Like Schrempf, I think it will take him time to become the player he'll ultimately be and hopefully, he'll be allowed that time to grow in the NBA. But if Avdija is lucky enough to land in a situation that will be patient with him, he'll be as good as Schrempf was - which is a pretty good basketball player.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): At times it feels lazy to consistently compare EuroLeague prospects to European players but I think it's often a direct product of how the game is taught - and played - across those waters.
That being said, I'm going with a comparison that I've seen a few times in Hedo Turkoglu.
Aside from earning All-Rookie honours in 2001 and winning Most Improved Player in 2008, Turkoglu didn't exactly fill up his trophy case during his 15-year career but he did fill up the stat sheet. During Orlando's Finals run in 2009, Turkoglu averaged 15.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Avdija, who is listed as 6-foot-9 - an inch shorter than Turkoglu - has shown an ability to create for himself and others, similar to the manner in which Turkoglu did during his peak. As I see the star potential in Avdija, I envision him having a longer peak while picking up a few more accolades along the way, namely a couple of All-Star selections.
If he can last in the league for 15 years and play a critical role in a Finals run, Avdija will have proven to be more than worthy of a top-five selection in this draft.
Juan Estévez (@JuanEstevez90): I agree 100 percent with the Turkoglu comparison, but to add a new name, I will go with a player whose careers didn't pan out that well because of injuries but showed a lot of promise early on: Chandler Parsons.
To be fair to Avdija, who I like a lot as a prospect, I'm talking about Houston's Parsons. Parsons was probably a little more athletic, but both are 6-foot-9 with great versatility, good team defenders, smart decision-makers with impressive vision and are able to produce as role players spacing the floor or creating offence with the ball on their hands.
It's easy to forget, but Parsons was a very good player with Houston and would have thrived even more in today's positionless basketball. In his last season before joining the Dallas Mavericks, he averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, shooting a respectable 37.0 percent from three. Maybe Avdija can exceed those numbers and become a star, but I see him more as a complementary piece on a good team than a first option of an offence. He doesn't excel in one particular area but helps in all of them, making him a jack of all trades.
It doesn't matter who he has around or what role he has to play, but as long as you don't expect him to average 25 points per game, Avdija is going to help his franchise from the moment he gets on the court.
Alex Novick (@Anov_SN): A tough point-forward with creativity as a playmaker, can lead in transition and has a jumper to keep the defense honest. Not overly explosive, but possessing the length, footspeed and IQ to be a strong rebounder and disrupter on the defensive end. A heady player with intangibles to his game that can elevate the ceiling of whatever team he's on.
If that portrayal sounds familiar, it's probably because you've read something similar lately within a scouting report on Deni Avdija. While it's an accurate profile of the Israeli-Serbian, it's also a description of two-time NBA champion Lamar Odom.
Also drafted at age 19, Odom was a legitimate 6'10 point-forward with a smooth handle before every 6'10 player thought they were a point-forward with a smooth handle. He was versatile, slightly ahead of his time, and made countless winning plays as the No. 3 piece to a Lakers team that won back-to-back titles. And while the likeness might not jump out to you, you get the sense when watching film of the 19-year-old Avdija that his impact on the court will be recollective of Odom's.
Avdija's inconsistent three-ball is arguably the biggest question mark in his game at the moment, which falls in line with the up-and-down career Odom had as a jump shooter. Yet one look at Deni's pure release and it's easy to envision him surpassing the career 31.2 percent mark Odom had from long range, giving him higher upside as a scorer. Avdija is a righty, lacking the inherent advantage Odom had being left-handed, but in Deni's highlight reel you'll find craftiness with his off-hand that most right-handed players don't have. You can also check YouTube to confirm that being listed one inch shorter than Odom won't hold Deni back from making his impact felt at the rim.
After leading Israel to back-to-back FIBA Under-20 European Championships, Avdija was named MVP of the 2019 tournament with a robust stat line of 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals. It's the furthest thing from an apples-to-apples comparison, but it's reminiscent of the 15-9-4-1-1 line Odom averaged throughout the prime of his NBA career.
Like Odom - who somehow never made an All-Star team - Deni may not reach superstar status, but he's got a good chance to be a top-3 player on a contending team for years to come.
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