The Washington Wizards have drafted Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija No. 9 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft earlier today. And according to early reactions from the front office, they were very happy to draft the Israeli-Serbian national.
Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard called drafting him a “no-brainer” since he was at the top of their draft board when it was their turn to pick. In addition, he saw Avdija play last year in EuroLeague play and kept an eye on the now-Wizards rookie since he was 16. Avdija is 19, so that’s about three years!
Sheppard called Deni Avdija a "no brainer" at number 9. He mentioned Avdija's pedigree -- his father played in Yugoslavia. "We were very excited... certainly Israeli fans are texting us. They're pretty excited. I think we made some Wizards fans tonight. We are very honored."— Ben Mehić (@BenMehicNBA) November 19, 2020
Tommy Sheppard visited Serbia to watch Deni Avdija play in Euroleague. "We've seen quite a bit of him." Says he's been watching Deni Avdija since he was 16.— Ben Mehić (@BenMehicNBA) November 19, 2020
Tommy Sheppard says the Wizards "honor the integrity" of their draft board, and Deni Avdija was highest on their list of remaining prospects.— Ben Mehić (@BenMehicNBA) November 19, 2020
Head coach Scott Brooks also believes that Avdija will make practices and their squad more competitive right away.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks comments on Deni Avdija: "I love his toughness. I love his IQ. He steps on the court and competes. He's going to make our practices and games better. I love guys that play with emotion."— Ben Mehić (@BenMehicNBA) November 19, 2020
Scott Brooks said Deni Avdija switches at a high level -- "he has some good coaching, with his dad being a player... I think he's ready to help us. He's going to get opportunities. I love his passing, his toughness, the emotion he plays with every night."— Ben Mehić (@BenMehicNBA) November 19, 2020
Before the draft today, many mock drafts predicted that Avdija would be a Top-5 pick. Ultimately, that didn’t happen, kind of like how last week’s SB Nation NBA team site mock draft went. Anyway, since Avdija has shown potential as a playmaker and scorer, some already think he may be the steal of the draft.
I love the Deni Avdija fit with Bradley Beal and John Wall. Adds a big playmaker who can share the ball with them—he can be used as a screener to force switches and mismatches. He can play right away too for a Wizards team with playoff aspirations. Potential steal of the draft. https://t.co/20b36oNfl4— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 19, 2020
From @Mike_Schmitz on Avdija: “I think he’s gonna be the steal of the draft."— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) November 19, 2020
So, do you think Avdija is a steal at No. 9 or is this the right place for him to be picked? Let us know in the comments below.