With the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Wizards went international and selected two-time Israeli league champion Deni Avdija.
Avdija is a 6-foot-9-inch forward who at 19 years old has been playing professional with famed Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv since 2017. He is considered big enough to play power forward but has the ball handling, creativity and playmaking skills of a point guard.
In short, Avdija has the skills to transition to the NBA, where being able to play and guard multiple positions is almost a requirement. Scouts have commented on Avdija’s toughness, competitiveness and swagger.
“He likes to attack the basket and plays with a lot of force,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “He has played against men in the league he played in. He has tremendous basketball IQ and I love his fiery personality on the court. I love guys that play with emotion.”
In most mock drafts, Avdija was projected to go higher than the ninth pick. In announcing the Wizards pick, the ESPN television crew noted that Avdija might end up being “the steal of the draft.”
“I think he is ready to play for us and he [is] going to get opportunities,” said Brooks.
For the second straight year, the Wizards had the ninth overall pick in the NBA Draft, and Avdija has an impressive act to follow. Rui Hachimura was the Wizards first round selection last year, and this past season, he averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds to earn second team All-Rookie honors, becoming the first All-Rookie Wizards player since Bradley Beal in 2013 to achieve that feat.
“There was plenty of excitement in the room when Deni became available,” said Brooks. “It just fired me up and I can’t wait to get to practice with him. The good thing about this draft being so late, we practice in a couple of weeks.”
In the second round, the Wizards have the 37th pick overall.