Wizards select Deni Avdija with No. 9 pick in National Basketball Association draft

Ross Houston
November 22, 2020

With Killian Hayes and Deni Avdija going seventh and ninth respectively, it was the eighth consecutive year where a pair of worldwide players went in the draft's first 10 picks.

If he becomes the best Deni Avdija he can be, Washington will have the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft.

They noted his "tremendous versatility in the open court" and said he was "a fiery competitor".

"Israel is a small country, it didn't provide as many National Basketball Association players and for me to represent my country and be in the highest spot possible, that's unbelievable and I'm super excited and ready to get my game to the next level", he said in an interview with ESPN. "Israel is a small country and to represent Israel is incredible".

"I'm super excited for Washington". "I have the whole nation behind me". But the top-10 pick is ready to get to work on that, among other things, to achieve his main goal in the league.

ESPN commentators playfully noted that Avdija, who addressed the media in fluent English, "gets by in two-and-a-half languages".


Another fun fact about Avdija: he learned how to speak English from school, watching TV shows, and by playing Call of Duty. "He is quite fluent in basketball, thanks to his Dad". His father, Zufer, is a Muslim Serb from Kosovo who played pro basketball in Yugoslavia in the 1980s and then in Israel. Some guys, they just understand how to play basketball. It was a pleasure to play with you and now you're moving on to the big league. With the ball handling, passing and court vision of a guard, he gives the Wizards another option to run the offence along with Bradley Beal and the returning John Wall.

He was born in Kibbutz Beit Zera in the north, where his mother Sharon is from. Soon, he'll move to Washington, D.C.

Avdija isn't just a great playmaker for someone of his size, he's a great playmaker for someone of any size. It's a great organization.

In Israel, Avdija was ahead of his peers from a young age. "I am easy to adjust. I think we made some Wizards fans tonight", Sheppard said. "I will be asking questions to get better every day and have the best environment around me to help me make sure I fit in and get better in the National Basketball Association". He plays the small forward position. Most recently playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv this past season, Avdija thrived in the Israeli League portion of his team's schedule averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game en route to winning the league title. His stats were slightly less impressive in the more competitive Euroleague. Madar, who played for Hapoel Tel Aviv, is a skilled playmaker and strong shooter. "Everyone around you knows how much hard work, will and boldness has gone into this process".

Now 19 and 6-foot-9 with a guard's ballhandling skills, Avdija should be able to bolster the Wizards' defensive presence on the perimeter and, at times, play alongside forward Rui Hachimura, the worldwide pick the Wizards took at No. 9 previous year.

"To bring my work ethic from (Israel)", he told the media. I just joined the team. Avdija will be a player to watch for during the upcoming season.


"We were a little bit surprised he was gonna be there at nine".

Avdija has played professionally the last three seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He now plays for Hapoel Hevel Modi'in.

Internationally, he represents Israel and has been a member of two gold medal-winning squads - the 2018 FIBA U20 European Championship in Germany and the 2019 FIBA U20 European Championship in Israel.

He adds, "I'm sure he will do it great!"

Avdija said it was moving to be the highest selected Israeli prospect. And when travel finally resumes, Israelis will no doubt be off to Washington, D.C., to see their young up-and-coming superstar in action.

The sports news brought a dose of optimism to the two countries amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


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