Saturday, 28 November, 2020

Deni Avdija on joining Wizards: ‘I have the honor to represent Israel’

NBA Draft 2020: Washington Wizards select Deni Avdija with the No. 9 overall pick Washington Wizards draft Deni Avdija in first round
Cary Erickson | 22 November, 2020, 01:51

I'm Krysten Peek joined by Deni Avdija who is going to Washington Wizards.

Israeli NBA prospect Deni Avdija shoots a free throw for Israel at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in April 2018. How has this entire draft night been for you? He began his professional career in 2017 with Maccabi Tel Aviv. "I love his IQ". I can't recall his [stat] line, I'll just tell you this. "I know deep inside of him - he doesn't show his emotions outside - but deep inside I'm sure he's very proud".

"Israel is such a small country that doesn't provide as many National Basketball Association players as other countries, but for me just to represent my country and to make history, that's a blessing", Avdija said.

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.

Veljko Perovic, a former assistant coach at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv who worked closely with Avdija over the last four years, was quoted on the Maccabi website as saying that Avdija "has a great desire to compete, win and develop... I mean, I don't have any words". His father, Zufer Avdija, played for the Yugoslavian national team and later moved to Israel, where he played professionally for a number of Israeli clubs. "He played a big part in my journey", said his son. "Israel is a small country and to represent Israel is awesome".

"For me to represent my country and make history, that's a blessing", Avdija said. He's going to make our practices better and our games better.

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The Wizards announced Thursday, when the deal became official, that they sent Schofield and the rights to 37th overall pick Vit Krejci to Oklahoma City in exchange for Michigan State guard Cassius Winston, the 53rd overall pick out of Michigan State, and a second-round pick in 2024. I mean, it's just me.

"I'm super excited for Washington". I'm so blessed to get picked by them. And you're a great perimeter defender with your length and size.

Now 19 and 6-foot-9 with a guard's ballhandling skills, Avdija should be able to bolster the Wizards' defensive presence on the perimeter and, at times, play alongside forward Rui Hachimura, the global pick the Wizards took at No. 9 a year ago. "I've kind of faced a lot of challenges, it made me a better player", Avdija said Thursday in a virtual news conference from Israel. "And yeah, we just talked a lot in that season". "... I'm a big competitor". And hopefully, we can do great things together.

There's no question the Wizards were excited to get Avdija, who the team has scouted from a young age.

DENI AVDIJA: Wow. Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy.

"Hell yeah", Sheppard said after getting off the phone with the league office, as other members of the organization gave a standing ovation. And I can not wait. Though the Wizards have talented young players, they haven't been able to succeed in the last few years.