Analyzing Deni Avdija in an Israeli BSL Game

December 27th, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch Deni Avdija and Maccabi Tel Aviv play against Hapoel Holon in an Israeli BSL game that took place on December 8th, as I was able to see this match with thanks to YouTube via מנהלת ליגת העל בכדורסל. Avdija is a tall, skilled point forward that has been receiving heavy playing time in Israel’s top league, and also has been a rotation player for his team in the Euroleague. I set out to see how well he’s played this season, and he is a talented player whose skill set and versatility could allow him to thrive in the NBA.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's 6-8 point forward, Deni Avdija could potentially be a top 5 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo: Dov Halickman Photography via Sports Rabbi.)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 6-8 point forward, Deni Avdija could potentially be a top 5 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo: Dov Halickman Photography via Sports Rabbi.)

Deni Avdija is a very good playmaker that possesses tremendous court vision, and he has a knack for making timely plays to set up scores for his teammates. He is a good ball handler that can push the ball up the floor, and he can find teammates ahead on the break, as well as throw crisp interior passes to find them on the move to set up scores for them. He is a patient player that sees the floor well, and he will probe and let plays develop before throwing solid passes that will put his teammates in prime spots to score the basketball. Every once in a while, his tendency to try to weave balls into tight windows may lead his passes to get deflected, but Avdija generally showed off strong playmaking skills, and in this game, he also did a good job of not turning the ball over.

He also did a good job of scoring on strong drives to the basket. Avdija used a crafty hesitation move when driving left off of a screen to score off the glass. Also, he drove hard another towards the baseline to score on a powerful dunk late in this contest. Plus, he also dribbled in to hoist up a pull-up, mid-range jumper, as he was able to draw free throws on that occasion.

Plus, he also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Avdija will look to score on quick backdoor cuts to the hoop, and he was able to score on one cut early on. Plus, he also sprinted ahead to get the ball on the break, as he dribbled in to score on a high-flying dunk in transition. He also will look to crash the glass, but he missed wildly on a tip shot after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.

In this game, Avdija showed a fairly average ability to knock down jumpers from outside of the paint. On the bright side, he used a nifty crossover, step back move to knock down a pull-up three midway through this game. However, he missed a couple of spot-up threes off the catch, and his first three-point attempt missed badly. Though he did a good job of getting to the free throw line, he had trouble making his free throws when he was at the foul line. It seems that Avdija may be much more of a facilitator than a pure shooter at this stage, and his struggles at the foul line and inconsistent three-point shooting suggest that he will need to improve his ability to make jump shots.

He also is a good rebounder that has a keen nose for the basketball.  Avdija would frequently leap up to collect boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes push the ball up the court to create transition scoring opportunities for his team.

Plus, Avdija is a solid defender that possesses a good ability to challenge shots to force misses, and he can change shot trajectories of his opponents by blocking shots.  He is a good shot blocker that relies on his length, positioning, and timing to swat numerous shots to help his team protect the paint, as he will rotate to do so on drives as well as in the post. Avdija is an active defender that will often look to challenge shots to force misses, and he can do so when defending drives as well as out on the three-point line. He possesses fairly good length, agility and footwork to defend opponents out on the perimeter, and he also will play passing lanes, as he managed to run back to intercept a pass from a post player to collect a steal. Also, Avdija will fight through screens, and he will hustle back on defense to prevent opponents from getting easy scoring opportunities in transition.

Sometimes though, he may gamble too much defensively. He can tend to be caught ball watching, which would lead him to be out of position. Sometimes, he would be late to rotate when guarding shooters, as that would cause him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. Other times, he would be late to defend cuts or drives, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores. He also had some trouble defending in the post, as he would tend to get backed down far in the paint, and he also would sometimes get beat on quick moves, which would cause him to allow scores when defending in the paint.

In general, Deni Avdija is a tall, cerebral facilitator that can comfortably run the point or play off the ball, and he is a very good passer and ball handler that can rack up assists on offense. He is also a fairly solid athlete, as he can accelerate to make a couple of eye-popping plays every now and then.   Plus, he also is a crafty player that has versatile scoring skills and above average defensive skills. On the other hand, he has struggled to make threes consistently or free throws this year, and he will still need improve his focus on the defensive end. Right now, Avdija is a talented prospect that looks to be a likely bet to go in the lottery of the 2020 draft, and he could end up being a solid player in the mold of a Richard Jefferson type of player in the NBA.

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