Thompson: Three reasons Avdija makes sense for Hornets at No. 3
The Charlotte Hornets leaped from the eighth spot in the NBA Draft Lottery to ending up with the third overall pick. Charlotte has the ability to draft a player that has the potential to be a key player for the future. The pressure on general manager Mitch Kupchak to make the right pick is enormous.
With plenty of options available, let’s take a look at one of the players that could be available for the Hornets-- Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija.
Here are three reasons why Charlotte should take Avdija-- and one reason why they should not-- if he is available.
NO 1: PLAYMAKING
At 6-9 Avdija has a great ability to see the floor from all angles. Possessing an extremely high basketball IQ and an ability to look for his teammates, he has all of the traits to be a very good passer in the league. He has a very good ability to find teammates for easy baskets.
Because he’s an above average ball handler, it allows him to not only create shots for his teammates but also himself. He moves very well for a player at his size and can cause matchup problems because he is very deceptive with his quickness.
He would be used perfectly as a Point Forward because both his IQ and handling at his size is perfect for this type of skill set. He will remind you of former Orlando Magic swingman Hedo Turkoglu with the way he attacks the defense.
How he fits the Hornets is the same way that Nicolas Batum did when he was first acquired with the team. Head coach James Borrego can allow Avdija to handle basketball to create open shots for both Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier III.
NO 2: FINISHING ABILITY
When he does not have the ball in his hands, Avdija is an outstanding cutter. By Synergy Sports, Avdija rated in the 83rd percentile when it came to finishing after making a cut. He possesses very good body control and with his size defenders have a problem blocking shot.
With the ability to finish with both hands, Avdija will find ways to score in traffic on the next level. Even though he will not dunk on you, he is very smooth with his finishing ability. He has a very good pump fake that allows for him to be able to finish at the rim.
In an offense that needs players to make moves to the rim, Avdija is very good at the catch and drive. If he’s drafted, he becomes the best at this on the roster. His lower body strength does not allow him to get bumped off the ball easily.
NO 3: PROFESSIONALISM
Known for being a relentless worker, Avdija takes the game seriously. He is known for not only being the first one in the gym, but known for taking hundreds of jumpshots after games. Learning the game from his father who played at a very high level in both Israel and Yugoslavia.
Being only 19 years old, not only playing at the high level in Israel, he played on one of the best teams in the world. HIs Maccabi Tel-Aviv team had 6 players who played in the NBA (including Amare Stoudamire and Omri Casspi) and 4 others who were drafted by NBA teams. On a roster with all of that talent, he became the youngest player in the Isreali Basketball League history to win the MVP award. As his team went to the Euroleague Final Four.
ABOUT HIS SHOOTING
Earlier it was mentioned that he works on his jump shot on a regular basis. But it has not translated into high shooting percentages. He hit under 30% from deep for the majority of the Euroleague season and the Isreali Basketball season. He shot under 65% from the free throw line so that does not help either. Even though he has a good form and release on his shot, it just does not find the bottom of the net enough.
Working with a NBA shooting coach will help fix some of these problems if the Hornets are willing to wait on it to become consistent. On a team that can use as much help from the perimeter, Avdija might not be able to provide it on day one.
Avdija does not have a standout skill that will shine from the very first second he steps on the court, but what he does possess is a skill set that does so many different things that most players in the class can not do. If the Hornets are willing to wait on him to grow into his skills and talent, you are looking at a Detlef Schrempf type of player.
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