Deni Avdija is one of the few draft prospects who has played competitive basketball in the past seven months, writes Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. The Israeli forward, who is considered a top five-pick by some draft analysts, elected to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Winner League tournament in June and was named league MVP.
“There was a choice to either rest before the draft and just work out or play,” Avdija said. “Me, I’m competitive. I couldn’t leave my teammates and my coaches so I thought I needed to fight, and I wanted to win this championship to go off in a good and positive way.”
Avdija is already a fan favorite in Israel. He was only 16 when he signed with Maccabi in 2017, becoming the youngest player in team history. He was also part of the Israel junior national team that won the European Championships in 2018 and 2019. Avdija has been in Atlanta since August, working out with fellow European prospect Theo Maledon and waiting for his shot at the NBA.
“I hope to show teams how big of a competitor I am. How I love to win and how I’ll always challenge myself,” Avdija said. “I just want to show them it’s just me being me, playing my game, practicing as hard as I can, shooting the ball, rebounding, playmaking, things I usually do well and we’ll see how it goes.”
There’s more draft news to pass along:
- Agent Rich Paul is responding to complaints about a televised Pro Day held this week for Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Maxey, according to Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports. Some rival agents claimed the event gave too much exposure to Paul’s clients. “When black it’s discredited, it’s critiqued, narratives are driven,” Paul wrote on Instagram. “It’s a shock when the black athlete isn’t making the black agent work for free, or feel as if it’s a privilege to represent them but instead respect their practice and expertise. Why?”
- Maxey showed off a revamped jump shot during his 20-minute session, observes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Using a higher release point than he did at Kentucky, Maxey drilled five straight three-pointers in his workout. “I was able to show I can knock down my outside shot consistently — catch-and-shoot, off the move — and I was able to show my conditioning because nobody has seen me because of COVID-19,’’ he said.
- Colorado’s Tyler Bey set an NBA combine record for forwards with a 43.5-inch max vertical leap, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Bey is No. 28 on ESPN’s list of the top 100 draft prospects.