Avdija played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, entered the EuroLeague and has basketball in his line – his father played professionally. Avdija, the highest draft pick of all time in Israel, was predicted by many analysts than before. ESPN analyst Mike Schmitz described Avdija as a potential theft of the draft.
For Sheppard, Avdija’s versatility was a breeze.
“We were very grateful that it fell to nine,” said Sheppard. “He’s someone who has great potential as a winger and secondary playmaker. We think he’ll just complement our talent and play with whatever line-up we throw out. He is a proven player who plays the highest level in Europe in the EuroLeague, but his experience in the national team – he has been a well-known asset since he was 16. “
Avdija is now 19 and 6-foot-9 and has guardian skills in handling balls. He should be able to bolster the wizards’ defensive presence on the fringes and play alongside striker Rui Hachimura at times, the international pick the wizards last made in 9th year.
Washington loved how many different boxes he checked. Sheppard called Avdija a “blend player,” and Wizards coach Scott Brooks highlighted his professional experience in pro leagues and for the Israeli national team.
“I love its toughness. I love his IQ. As a coach, you never have to worry about a player playing hard, ”said Brooks. “That’s what [Avdija] does. He steps into the field and competes. He will improve our exercises and improve our games. … What I like is that you play most of his career against guys who are older than you. He has played against men in the leagues he has played in. “
The question for a Wizards team looking to battle for a playoff spot next season is how quickly Avdija can contribute. Brooks said Wednesday night he won’t be afraid to give minutes to a young player, but like most prospects, the teen will take time to adjust to the size and pace of the NBA – on a shortened timeline, with the season should begin December 22nd. Training camps will start in a few weeks.
On the surface, Avdija has the defensive skills Washington was looking for. Offensively, both Brooks and Sheppard said he had improved his shot, a weakness most draft analysts pointed to on Wednesday.
“He fits the ball pretty well. He attacks the basket with great force. I’ve seen some high-level shifts. … I think his experience, he’s had good coaching with his father as a player, ”said Brooks. “I think he will help us. He’ll get some opportunities, but I look forward to getting him to the practice site. “
Sheppard said repeatedly that ahead of the draft, the team was content to pick up a player who may need evolving if the prospect could become a franchise cornerstone.
“Very competitive player. Very high ceiling. Excellent potential for the future, ”said Sheppard. But right now I think he’s going to come in and really make a difference in every possible way. And I think he sees the challenge before getting to know the NBA, the game speed, the athleticism and so on. But he was on the racetrack. As I said, we’ve seen his national team since he was a young man. “
Avdija quipped in his first press conference as an NBA player and had to thank his Washington-based agent after the couple joked about being neighbors one day. Avdija was already thinking about meeting his future Wizards teammates while keeping his homeland in heart.
“It is a blessing for me to represent my country and make history,” said Avdija. “… I never dreamed of that until this moment. It’s still a dream. “
The Wizards also acquired Michigan all-American point guard Cassius Winston and a future round two election after closing a deal with Oklahoma City.
Winston, a 6-1 four-year player for the Spartans, lands in Washington as one of the top point guards in the draft and a capable backup for John Wall, who is slated to play his first NBA games two years later, returning from an Achilles Injury. Winston averaged 18.6 points and shot 44.8 percent off the field and 43.2 percent of three in his senior year in the Spartans.