Wizards select Deni Avdija at No. 9 in 2020 NBA Draft

The Wizards have known about Deni Avdija for years and now they have him

As the first-ever Israeli lottery pick, this was a moment beyond Avdija's imagination.

"I didn't imagine that".

"This is insane for me". "Israel is a small country and to represent Israel is wonderful". I appreciate it very much. I have the whole nation behind me, who I'm going to represent well. The Israeli player was in Tel Aviv for the announcement, which came at about 4 a.m. Thursday local time.

The 19-year-old has been the star since 2017 of Maccabi Tel Aviv, for which he has been playing as forward.

Internationally, he represents Israel and has been a member of two gold medal-winning squads - the 2018 FIBA U20 European Championship in Germany and the 2019 FIBA U20 European Championship in Israel.

Now knowing what Avdija adds on the surface, what does he bring to the Wizards?

"This draft is anything but ordinary", said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as he opened the 2020 NBA draft Wednesday night, delayed from its usual June spot multiple times to November.

"Avdija turns heads with his playmaking skills as a player who stands at 6-foot-9".

Sheppard remembers watching Avdija play a friendly against the Serbian national team in a not-so-friendly environment. He's a true point-forward. Avdija is known for his competitiveness, work ethic, and high basketball IQ. One of the historic aspects of the draft November 18 was the ninth-round pick of Maccabi Tel Aviv's Deni Avdija by the Washington Wizards. His father played basketball many seasons in the Israeli League and his mother ran track and field.

As for a player comparison - he has shades of Gordon Hayward and Hedo Turkoglu.

Deni Avdija has been playing basketball since the age of 8, and only eight years later was playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv as the youngest player in franchise history.

"Hell yeah", Sheppard said after getting off the phone with the league office, as other members of the organization gave a standing ovation. Instead, he'll go with the number of his draft selection, No. 9.

"We've seen quite a bit of him".

"Deni being among the highest picks in the upcoming draft is the main talking point among nearly every Israeli sports fan in general, and the basketball circle in particular and has grown over the last few years".

Going into the draft, Avdija was a top prospect, and it was surprising to some that he was still available after the first eight picks.

Hayes, picked by Detroit, obviously also became the first European player taken this year. "I'm ready to work".

What is his main goal? Sports has always been a place where people can bring hope and show that anything is possible if a person works hard enough and believes in themselves. Sheppard called Avdija a "blend player", and Wizards Coach Scott Brooks highlighted his professional experience playing in pro leagues and for the Israeli national team. "At the end of my career, to look at it and say "I was the best Deni Avdija I can be". ESPN's Mike Schmitz hailed the selection as the "steal of the draft" as soon as it happened.



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