Deni Avdija

Central Notes: Cavs’ Draft, T. Thompson, Prince, Bulls

The Cavaliers have Israeli forward Deni Avdija ranked in their second tier of draft prospects, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Fedor states that the team has done “extensive homework” on Avdija, but evaluation is tricky because he had limited playing time in the EuroLeague.

At 6’9″, Avdija offers athleticism, versatility and play-making, but his outside shot is questionable. Forward is Cleveland’s primary position of need, but Fedor indicates the team plans to take the best player available, regardless of position. He identifies Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball as the three players in the team’s first tier.

Fedor also says if the Cavs are interested in Obi Toppin, they should plan to use him as a power forward/center rather than a small forward. According to Fedor, Toppin doesn’t have the offensive skills or the lateral quickness to succeed on the perimeter in the NBA.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • If the Cavaliers‘ season is over, fans may not get the chance to say goodbye to a pair of franchise cornerstones in Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, writes Evan Dammarell of Forbes. With Thompson’s $18.5MM and Dellavedova’s $9.6MM contracts deal both coming off the books, Dammarell doesn’t expect either to return next season, although Dellavedova may be willing to accept a veteran’s minimum deal. Thompson told the organization he would like to be traded to a contender before the deadline, Dammarell states, but Cleveland didn’t like any of the offers it received.
  • Former Pistons star Tayshaun Prince has the experience to succeed as the team’s next general manager, contends Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Prince performs a variety of roles in the Grizzlies’ front office and has become an influential voice since being hired in 2017.
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times looks back at a disappointing season for the Bulls that will be over unless the NBA decides to resume the season for all 30 teams. Cowley hands out a few awards, such as Zach LaVine as player of the year and Coby White as reserve of the year, and says the most significant event was John Paxson’s decision to tell ownership in December that changes were needed in the front office.

Draft Notes: Cisse, Kuminga, West, International

Forward Moussa Cisse, a top-10 prospect for the class of 2021, will graduate high school a year early and reclassify to this year with an eye toward the 2021 draft, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reports. Cisse was ranked No. 8 among prospects for the 2021 class. The 6’11” Cisse intends to commit to a top college program next week and has narrowed his choices to Kentucky, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, Memphis or Georgetown. “I am trying to find the best way to the NBA,” Cisse said.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Small forward Jonathan Kuminga, the top-ranked player on ESPN’s 2021 prospects list, has the option of reclassifying to this year and is considering the G League, according to Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com. Kuminga is “50-50” on reclassifying, but has already narrowed his college choices to Auburn, Duke, Kentucky and Texas Tech, along with the possibility of joining the G League development program. Kuminga has been doing online schoolwork in order to graduate early, Zagoria adds.
  • Marshall guard Jarrod West has elected to withdraw from the draft and return to school for his senior season, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. A three-year starter with the Thundering Herd, West averaged 14.2 PPG, 4.1 APG, and 4.0 RPG last season.
  • Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija and Abdoulaye N’Doye rank as the top international prospects in this year’s draft, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Players who participated in the Australian NBL’s Next Stars program this past season were not included in the rankings. According to ESPN’s latest rankings, Avdija is the top overseas prospect at No. 5 overall with Hayes ranked at No. 9.

Wizards Notes: Draft, Avdiji, Hachimura, Giles

Deni Avdija, who is expected to go in the top 10 of the NBA draft, plays the style of basketball that the Wizards like, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports details. His versatility and passing skills would fit well in Washington’s system, though his lack of shooting and rebounding may force the franchise to look at other options in the draft.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • The Wizards may see Rui Hachimura as their best young prospect on the roster, but former NBA executive John Hollinger believes that distinction goes to Troy Brown, as he explains on The Athletic. Brown, who is nearly 18 months younger than Hachimura, has play-making skills and Hollinger is curious why the young team didn’t feature the 20-year-old more often.
  • Washington is hoping that Hachimura can improve on defense and be the team’s go-to defender for larger wings, Hollinger passes along in the same piece.
  • The Wizards were terrible on the defensive end in 2019/20, but the franchise is hoping to acquire a rim protector this summer. Hollinger notes that either Thomas Bryant or Moritz Wagner could find themselves on another team as a result of Washington’s pursuit of a big.
  • Harry Giles is a name to watch for the Wizards’ mid-level exception, Hollinger relays in the same piece. JaVale McGee is another name worth monitoring, though the former executive cautions that it may not be feasible for the Wizards to use all of their mid-level, as they don’t want to enter the tax.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Avdija, Lakers, Clippers

Even if the NBA is able to resume its 2019/20 season and play some regular season games before the playoffs begin, a team like the Warriors may not be involved, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. In fact, one source who spoke to Slater this week predicted that there’s “basically zero chance” of Golden State playing another regular season game this summer, even if other teams do.

As Slater explains, it’s possible the NBA will establish a new end-of-season schedule that doesn’t include the league’s 10 worst teams or so. That would allow playoff teams to get back to game speed and could give some teams just outside the playoff picture an outside shot at a postseason berth. In that scenario, clubs like the Warriors – who have no chance to make the playoffs – wouldn’t be required to return under unique circumstances only to play a handful of meaningless games.

Slater notes that there are other paths the NBA could take that might also exclude a team like the Warriors. The league could set up a play-in tournament for the last couple postseason spots or could advance directly to the playoffs based on the current standings without rescheduling any regular season games.

As we wait to see if any of those options will be viable, let’s round up a few more notes from out of the Pacific…

  • The Warriors were among the teams that took “a long look” at Israeli prospect Deni Avdija in Europe this season, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, who examines whether the young forward might be a fit in Golden State.
  • With Los Angeles’ shelter-at-home order in place through at least May 15, it’s not clear when the city’s NBA teams might be able to reopen their practice facilities. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Lakers have been in touch with the Los Angeles mayor’s office to explore whether it might be possible to open their facility before that stay-at-home order is lifted. As McMenamin details, the Lakers have a series of precautionary measures planned to ensure player safety and would establish a set schedule for when players are permitted to visit their practice facility.
  • As Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times writes, the Clippers are happy to retain assistant general manager Mark Hughes, who was one of several candidates to interview for Chicago’s open GM job. Greif takes an in-depth look at the role Hughes plays in Los Angeles and how he has become one of the most well-liked members of the Clips’ front office.

Projected Lottery Pick Avdija Prepares To Enter Draft

Israeli forward Deni Avdija has submitted paperwork to the NBA to make himself eligible for the draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony relays.

Ranked No. 5 overall by Givony, Avdija announced his intention to leave the EuroLeague and play in the NBA on ESPN’s morning show Get Up.

“First of all, the NBA is the best league in the world. There is a lot to learn over there and a lot of experience there,” Avdija said. “It’s going to be great to take my game to the next level.”

According to Givony’s analysis, the 6’9” Avdija is tall enough to play power forward but has the play-making skills of a point guard who excels as a passer in pick-and-rolls.

Viewed by many experts as the top foreign prospect in the draft, Avdija played this season for Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging 7.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 1.6 APG in 19 MPG. He was named Most Valuable Player of the FIBA U20 European Championship last summer while dominating at both ends of the floor. He posted averages of 18.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.4 BPG and 2.1 SPG.

Although he posted modest stats for Maccabi, he was a young rotation player on a team that lost just once in Israeli League play and went 19-9 in the EuroLeague.

Draft Notes: Madar, Montgomery, Hayes, Wiseman

Israeli point guard Yam Madar has decided to enter the 2020 NBA draft, agent Alex Saratsis tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link).

Madar, who plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv and ranks 74th on ESPN’s big board, is a candidate to be selected in the second round, as Givony notes. I imagine the 19-year-old’s odds of being drafted would increase if he’s willing to be a draft-and-stash prospect, developing his game for another year or two overseas while an NBA team holds his rights.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • Yet another Kentucky underclassman has entered the draft, with the Wildcats announcing today that sophomore forward EJ Montgomery is the latest to declare. Montgomery, who tested the draft waters a year ago, will go pro this time around after averaging 6.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in a part-time role (24.1 MPG) for Kentucky. Five Wildcats are now part of our early entrants list, with Kahlil Whitney – who left the program in January – representing a sixth.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer makes a case for why he believes French guard Killian Hayes should be considered the No. 1 prospect in the 2020 draft class. Within the story, O’Connor suggests that NBA teams have wildly varying opinions on many of this year’s top prospects — for instance, some executives have center James Wiseman atop their boards, while others don’t have him in their top 10.
  • Israeli forward Deni Avdija is another wild card among this year’s lottery prospects. Marc Berman of The New York Post takes an in-depth look at Avdija, noting within the piece that the Raptors have scouted the youngster more than most teams. Toronto, of course, won’t be in position to draft Avdija in this year’s lottery.

International Notes: Beaubois, Spain, Nurse, James

Anadolu Efes of Turkey and former NBA guard Rodrigue Beaubois have reached a contract extension agreement until 2022, Sportando’s Dario Skerletic relays via Israeli reporter Roi Cohen. Beaubois played four seasons for Dallas from 2009-13. This season, the French guard averaged 11.1 PPG over 43 games.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Spain’s ACB league has been suspended indefinitely, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Play was already suspended until April 24th due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The league’s teams will decide how to proceed n the upcoming weeks.
  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse remains fully committed to coaching Team Canada in Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Nurse is “really excited” about it and hopes the Olympics, rescheduled for next summer, can go forward as planned.
  • A trio of former NBA players heads the list of the best players in Europe, according to Jeff Greer of The Athletic. A survey of 21 coaches and players overseas choose former Phoenix and New Orleans guard Mike James as the top player in Europe this season in a close votes. Guard Shane Larkin and forward Nikola Mirotic tied for the second-most votes. Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, a likely top-10 pick in this year’s draft, is considered the top international NBA prospect.

Draft Notes: Early Entrants, Haliburton, Hayes, Avdija

The list of early entrants for the 2020 draft continues to grow, with a trio of guards among the latest underclassmen to announce their intent to test the waters this spring.

Wichita State sophomore guard Dexter Dennis, Colgate junior guard Jordan Burns, and UNC Greensboro junior guard Isaiah Miller all made their draft announcements on Twitter.

Dennis averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 28 games (25.8 MPG) for the Shockers in 2019/20; Burns, a former Patriot Tournament MVP, posted 15.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 34 games (32.4 MPG) for the Raiders; and Miller recorded a team-high 17.8 PPG to go along with 2.8 SPG as he earned Player of the Year – and Defensive Player of the Year – honors in the Southern Conference.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Even after the departure of Leon Rose, the head of the agency’s basketball department, Creative Artists Agency is having no problem continuing to fill out its roster with promising young players. CAA announced on Thursday (via Twitter) that projected lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton will be represented by the firm.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic shares his “unconventional” top five for the 2020 draft, valuing efficiency and production over hype and athleticism and focusing on versatile players who have at least one elite skill. Based on those criteria, French wing Killian Hayes top Strauss’ board, followed by Obi Toppin, Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, and Isaac Okoro.
  • With the help of draft expert Fran Fraschilla, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes an in-depth look at Israeli swingman Deni Avdija, who is another candidate to be one of the first five players off the board in the 2020 draft. Fraschilla cautions that Avdija’s shot needs some work, but views him as this year’s top international prospect – above Hayes – and believes he belongs in the upper tier of the draft class.

Draft Notes: Logistics, Medicals, Mock Draft, More

Even before the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 NBA draft was viewed as a confusing one, given how many of this year’s top prospects – including LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, and RJ Hampton – had their seasons cut short by injuries or eligibility issues. Before going down with injuries, Ball and Hampton were playing on the other side of the world in Australia’s National Basketball League, limiting scouting opportunities for NBA teams.

Now, given the league’s hiatus and its shrinking list of pre-draft events, decision-makers are expecting to have to do their scouting almost exclusively via film, as Ethan Strauss of The Athletic details. Some executives, such as Warriors GM Bob Myers, are still hoping for the opportunity to meet prospects face-to-face, but are unsure whether that will be possible.

“Are we allowed to talk to them in person? That’s a huge part of hiring anybody, which is what a draft pick is; you’re hiring somebody into your company,” Myers said this week. “We’d like to be able to look at them and talk to them and we’d like to see them up close.”

The draft combine typically provides teams with an opportunity to meet dozens prospects in the span of a few days. However, as Strauss notes, even though this May’s combine hasn’t yet been postponed or canceled, few people expect it to happen. It’s also not clear when exactly the draft, currently scheduled for June 25, will take place if the NBA aims to resume its 2019/20 season in the spring or summer.

Here’s more on an uncertain 2020 draft:

  • Although teams are getting used to the idea of relying on digital scouting and conducting meetings through video apps like FaceTime or Zoom, executives are wondering how prospects will go through medical checks they’d usually undergo at the combine, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. One team staffer conveyed a similar concern to Strauss: “What the league has to do is at least get the medical records. Everything else is optional.”
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes his own look at the scheduling and logistical issues surrounding this year’s draft and digs into how the unusual circumstances may affect the decisions being made by potential early entrants.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has published an updated version of his mock draft, with Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, and Obi Toppin coming off the board first, in that order.

And-Ones: Italy, 2020 Draft, 2021 Free Agents

The coronavirus outbreak continues to have a major impact on Italian sports, with Nicola Lupo of Sportando passing along word that all sporting events taking place in Italy through April 3 will be played behind closed doors. The Italian government, which announced those measures, also said that athletes, coaches, and other team personnel will undergo medical tests to help avoid the virus from spreading.

There aren’t as many former NBA players competing professionally in Italy right now as there are in China and some other countries around the world, but Italy is still one of Europe’s basketball hubs, featuring one EuroLeague team in Olimpia Milano. The ruling will have a major impact on what basketball games in Italy look like over the next several weeks.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, the country’s leading freshman scorer, ranks atop many draft experts’ big boards for 2020. John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks down Edwards’ pros and cons, arguing that despite some flaws, Edwards has a “pretty high floor” and looks like “the least-bad option in a bad draft.”
  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wonders if the uninspiring crop of NCAA prospects this spring will prompt more teams to look at international draft options. Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and Theo Maledon are among the prospects who could appeal to NBA teams, as Tjarks details.
  • Although the 2021 free agent class looks tantalizing, many of the very best players who could hit the market that summer – including LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard – are already playing where they want to be, so it remains to be seen how much star movement there will be, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic.
  • As Lonzo Ball tries to help push the Pelicans into the postseason and LaMelo Ball prepares for the 2020 draft, their brother LiAngelo Ball is expected to sign a G League contract soon, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ball has been practicing with the Thunder‘s NBAGL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, as of late.