The Wizards were pleasantly surprised to be able to nab Avdija in the ninth pick, ranking him high on their draft board.
DENI AVDIJA has been projected as a top-10 NBA pick throughout the year, generally in the 4-8 range. More recently, however, there are rumblings that the 19-year-old Israeli will be selected closer toward the 2-5 range in next Wednesday’s draft
(photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
The Washington Wizards selected 19-year-old Deni Avdija ninth overall in the 2020 NBA draft which led Deni’s close family and friends to a rousing applause.
The Israeli sensation featured for Maccabi Tel Aviv for the past number of years and will now be taking his talents to America’s capital city.
The Wizards were pleasantly surprised to be able to nab Avdija in the ninth pick and had him high on their draft board. They thought he’d be selected earlier in the first round.
With the selection, Avdija becomes Israel’s first ever lottery pick, joining Omri Casspi who was selected twenty-third overall in the 2009 NBA draft.
Avdija will join Wizards star Bradley Beal and John Wall (who is expected to return after an extended injury period) along with rising star Rui Hachimura and will certainly be receiving plenty of playing time under head coach Scott Brooks.
The Washington Wizards featured in the NBA bubble this past season, finishing ninth overall, with a record of 25 to 47.
“Israel is a small country, to represent the country and be in the highest spot is amazing,” Avdija told ESPN. “I’m super excited to take my game to the next level.”
Asked what message he has for his family, friends and fans at home in Israel, he said, “I love them and I’m gonna make you proud.”
Since Avdija was selected ninth, he will sign a three-year rookie contract, earning about $12.5 million during that time. For comparison, the first pick in the draft will earn over $25 million and second pick will earn close to $23 million.
Avdija is the son of two high level athletes. His father, Zufer, won a bronze medal with Yugoslavia at the 1982 FIBA Basketball World Championship and played professionally in both Serbia and Israel. His mother, Sharon Artzi, is a former championship runner.
Idan Zonshine contributed to this article