Chase already wrote a lengthy scouting report on Deni Avdija back in February. Read that to see his take on Avdija as a prospect. If you want to hear mine, keep reading.
Avdija has been putting up big numbers over in Europe, which is no small task for a 19-year-old playing in a basketball culture that values veterans and has little incentive to develop young talent at the top level of competition. He’s also not unfamiliar with the city of Charlotte, as he was the MVP of Basketball Without Borders in Charlotte during All Star Weekend 2019.
Avdija boasts a versatile skill set, which jibes perfectly with the roster the Charlotte Hornets have been building over the last couple seasons.
Wingspan: 6’10” (estimated)
Weight: 215 pounds
Strengths: Offensive and defensive versatility, point forward potential, pro experience
The big selling point for Avdija as a draft pick is his overall versatility on both ends of the floor. On offense, he has the potential to operate as a team’s primary ball handler, and he does this at times for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He can function out of the post, handling in the pick and roll, running the floor both as a ball handler and runner, as a cutter, and as a spot up shooter.
He handles the ball like a guard, showing an impressive array of dribble moves, especially in the open floor. He reacts quickly to teammates getting open and finds them with creative deliveries. His jump shot has been streaky, but he’s shown the ability to make 3-pointers both off the catch and off the dibble in isolation situations.
Defensively, Avdija was required to take on the role as his team’s de facto rim protector despite playing more as a traditional combo forward. He took to the roll well and is a master at rotating as a help side defender and playing with verticality. He battles in the post and plays with good technique on the perimeter. He should be able to comfortably guard threes and fours at the NBA level, and he can hold his own if switched onto any position for short bursts.
One thing that’s immediately clear about Avdija is that he’s a pure basketball player. His natural reactions to the game around him are solid, and he shows little to no tendency to pre-plan moves or get tunnel vision with the ball in his hands. He’s very quick to rotate to help teammates defensively
Question marks: Shooting consistency, creating offense out of a standstill
Avdija’s shooting numbers don’t quite match up to the shooter he’s expected to be. His 3-point percentage in the highly competitive EuroLeague is just 27.7% (38.8% in the less competitive Israeli League. His shooting form reminds me a lot of Frank Kaminsky’s, where he tends to shoot in two parts, with a slight cock back before shooting. We saw with Kaminsky that his shot would get rushed in more competitive settings and his shooting effectiveness would be hampered. It looks like Avdija may have cleaned that up over the basketball hiatus, but the sample is still small.
On top of all that, he’s converting fewer than 60% of his free throw attempts. No bueno.
Avdija has terrific creation ability for a player his size, but he’s very right hand dominant as a driver and doesn’t always have a counter if he can’t turn the corner. That leads to some tough shots and live ball turnovers. He’ll have to add some change of direction and left hand savvy as a dribbler to his bag.
A player like Avdija fits into any system, and he fits the mold of player that the Hornets have been searching for since Mitch Kupchak and James Borrego arrived. It’s easy to see him taking on the role that Nicolas Batum was supposed to have with this team—a big, creative wing that can guard multiple positions, connect the offense, and knock down open shots.