Deni Avdija’s been in the news the past few days after he played for the Israeli national team against Auburn. His performance was described around the internets as impressive and dominating — someone for some reason thought his play was akin to Lebron.
I didn’t see the game, and I haven’t been able to find a full box score, but I did some rudimentary analysis on stats posted on Twitter by Neil Dalal of Hoops District.
Deni Avdija impresses in his first game with the Israeli national team, a win over Auburn— Neil Dalal (@NeilDalal96) August 8, 2022
11 fouls drawn
6/14 from the field
2/6 from 3
11/13 from FT
(h/t @thesportsrabbi, @dovster9) pic.twitter.com/hLhm8WsHuK
The box score gaps are potentially significant — minutes played, offensive and defensive rebounds, as well as steals and blocks.
For the heck of it, I ran numbers on what Dalal published. The stat line calculates to a score around 140, in my PPA metric, assuming 25 minutes played. (PPA is my overall production metric. In PPA, average is 100 and higher is better.)
The Twitterverse said Avdija had a couple steals and a couple blocks, so I ran the numbers a second time using the rumored stats, and I guessed that he had one offensive rebound based on his performance in the NBA (approximately 1 offensive rebound for every 8 defensive boards). His PPA with guesstimates (again assuming 25 minutes): about 170.
Not bad, though ihe didn’t shoot well (just 6-14 from the floor and 2-6 from three), he had 6 turnovers to his 6 assists, and he fouled out. On the plus side, he drew 11 fouls and hit 11-13 from the free throw line.
His overall offensive efficiency was around 105-to-106, which would be subpar in the NBA, but might be okay given the level of talent on his team.
If anyone has the actual box score, I’d be happy to update the numbers.
All of the preceding is bonus content, because I really sat down to write about Avdija and results from my Statistical Doppelgänger Machine. I previously wrote about Avdija’s 2021-22 season and prescribed areas for him to improve.
For those unfamiliar, my Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.
In Avdija’s case, 9 of the top 10 are 21 or 22 years old — last season was his age 21 season. All 10 players were forwards, and all rated as strongly similar.
- Justise Winslow, Miami Heat, 2017-18, age: 21 — The Heat apparently wanted so badly to draft Winslow they reportedly turned down a trade package from Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics that consisted of six draft picks, including four first rounders. It seems rare for both Ainge and Pat Riley to be that wrong. Winslow has been injury-plagued and unimpressive when healthy. He’s played seven seasons, and his next above average season will be his first.
- DerMarr Johnson, Atlanta Hawks, 2001-02, age: 21 — The narrative my brain recorded on Johnson was that he was emerging as a good-to-very-good player until a serious car wreck nearly killed him and derailed his career. This was his last season before the accident — PPA:70. He missed all of the following season and got back on the floor for a short stint with the New York Knicks in 2003-04. Then...he went to the Denver Nuggets and had the two best seasons of his career — a 103 PPA in 1232 minutes over 71 games at age 24, and a 73 PPA in 924 minutes over 58 games at 25. He was finished at 27.
- Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets, 2016-17, age: 22 — This comp struck me as weird because LeVert is best known for his inefficient scoring and lackluster defense, while Avdija is so-so on offense and solid defensively. But this was rookie LeVert when his usage rate was just 15.4%.
- Vladimir Radmanovic, Seattle Supersonics, 2001-02, age: 21 — Picked 12th overall in the 2001 draft, Radmanovic managed two average or better seasons: a 109 PPA at age 23 and a 100 PPA at 27. He stuck around for 12 seasons and 7 different teams, primarily on his ability to shoot.
- Omri Casspi, Sacramento Kings, 2010-11, age: 22 — The 23rd pick in the 2009 draft, Casspi stuck around for 10 below average seasons with 7 different teams. Casspi was the first Israeli selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
- Ryan Kelly, Los Angeles Lakers, age: 22 — This was Kelly’s rookie season, which was also his best (PPA: 79). He followed it up with three replacement level seasons and exited the league.
- Dorell Wright, Miami Heat, 2006-07, age: 21 — The Heat picked Wright 19th overall in 2006 and kept him around for five seasons. His final season in Miami was his best with the team: 97 PPA in 72 games. Then, he reeled off three consecutive average or better seasons — 118 PPA at 25, 138 at 26 and 113 at 27.
- Kenny Thomas, Houston Rockets, 1999-00, age: 22 — This is the comp that feels most like Avdija to me — not in style, Thomas was an undersized PF who at 6-7 might be a smallball center in today’s game — but in attitude and competitiveness. Thomas had a few about-average seasons and topped out with a 128 PPA, which he did at ages 26 and 28.
- Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons, 2017-18, age: 21 — Selected 8th overall, Johnson has mostly disappointed in the NBA. He briefly was reputed to be a stout defender, though that seems to have dissipated. Last season was his best, and he managed just a 71 PPA.
- Devean George, Los Angeles Lakers, 2001-02, age: 24 — Drafted 23rd overall in the 1999 draft by Jerry West, George’s reputation sped past his production, as often is the case with bit players on good teams. According to PPA, he never had an above average season in his 11-year career. His best was an 84 at age 26.
Overall, a pretty underwhelming list. Collectively, they have maybe 8-10 average or better seasons, and none rose to the level of All-Star. A few bigger names rate as somewhat similar (though further down the list). Names like: Harrison Barnes at 20, Pascal Siakam at 23, and Hedo Turkoglu at 22. On the other hand, there are also guys like Yi Jianlian at 21, Marquese Criss at 20, and Keith Bogans at 23.
Who’s next through the Doppelgänger Machine? Vote below.
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