“Israeli fans are the best, the entire nation’s behind you” Deni Avdija officially introduced by the Washington Wizards

Dec 2, 2020 | Holyland Hoops

By Sam Schwartz

Deni Avdija was available for a Q and A session via Zoom today and discussed a variety of topics in anticipation of his rookie season. The 9th overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft spoke about his transition from Israel to Washington D.C. and his expectation for his first year on the floor with the Wizards.

While Avdija enters the league as just a nineteen-year-old kid, learning on the fly to adjust to a foreign culture in exchange for a chance to pursue his professional dreams, the Israeli prodigy comes across as impressively aware of the weight his representative status carries.

“I worked so hard to take my game here, and just make my family, friends, and everybody proud, and tell all the Israeli’s that there is no limit. It doesn’t matter where you from, or what your flag is, if you’re a good basketball player you can go wherever you want.”

Deni Avdija – Credit: Dov Halickman

When asked bluntly what it means to be Israel’s highest NBA draft pick, and essentially the nation’s best teenage basketball prospect ever, Avdija seems to embrace the hero status he possesses while remaining aware that success at the next level requires patience.

“Israeli fans are the best, the entire nation’s behind you, everybody’s going to support you, you have a lot of Israelis everywhere in the United States. I’m going to have the support from Israel and also from here in the States, hopefully, I’ll represent as best as I can. In the end, I’m going to have my ups and downs, hopefully, all the Israeli fans are gonna be behind me all the time. I’m just going to play my game.”

On the meaning of seeing kids wearing his name on their jerseys, Avdija expressed nothing but gratitude for his stature as an Israeli superman.

Deni Avdija – Credit: Dov Halickman

“It’s gonna warm my heart first of all. For me they see me as somebody they love, I mean they show me the support, what can you ask better for a basketball player than people support you and love you and have your jersey. For me it’s like amazing, I never dreamed about it.” He then expressed a brief sense of teenage humor, allowing his generally too mature for his age tone to shift to the smile of a kid still with an entire career ahead of him, “hopefully they will score more with my jersey on.”

Adults or children alike in the Holy Land will be watching games in the middle of the night and that will begin in less than two weeks when Avdija faces Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in the first exhibition game, “I hope that everyone back in Israel will make up the sleeping hours. It’s amazing I can’t believe it’s going to happen so soon and everyone will be watching back at home. It warms my heart.”

Avdija carries himself like he already knows he’s a role model, answering a question on where he would want the ball for a final shot at the win, he immediately is sure to emphasize his lack of ego.

Deni Avdija – Credit: Dov Halickman

“Whatever’s gonna be open, I’m gonna go there. But regardless I’m just reading the game, like I mean I have the court vision, I have the IQ, I’ll just see the play and just make the play even if it’s for my teammates and if it’s for me. I trust my teammates and you know I’m all about wins, so or pass or shoot, I’m gonna read it.”

Questioned on the early nature of his relationships with veteran stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, Avdija echoes a similar willingness to divert to his teammates to succeed.

“I can tell those are very great guys, hard workers, that really care about basketball and their teammates so I think I’m very positive about getting their friendship together.”

Deni Avdija – Credit: Dov Halickman

The first question to exude a sense of self-pride from Avdija was when asked what drives his inner confidence on the floor when staring down a one on one matchup.  

“It’s just how competitive I am, I mean I don’t see a player in front of me and just say try to overthink how I defend him. I’m going to stay attached to the scouting report, I’ll know the player, and I’m just, I’mma go at him like I’m not afraid of anybody on defense.”

Deni Avdija – Credit: Dov Halickman

Not only did Washington’s new prospect impress in his unselfish nature, but Avdija also presented a realistic mindset as to what he hoped to achieve statistically in his rookie campaign.

When asked how he saw himself assimilating into Washington’s rotation of wing players this season, Avdija stated, “Listen, first of all, I respect all the players, I’m just trying to work hard and be the best Deni I can be. If the best Deni I can be will be a starter, Amazing, but I’m not looking at it like that. I’m looking at this like in the standpoint that I’m just working hard, being positive, and helping the team as much as I can. So whether me being a starter, or me coming from the bench, if our team winning and I have a good role and I make the team better, so it doesn’t really matter you know. I respect those players but I’m just going to be the best Deni I can be, and everything will come by itself.”

There is one Wizards teammate that Avdija is already familiar with, Anthony Gill, who’s Russain Khimki squad took on Maccabi Tel Aviv last season. Avdija continued his complementing nature in praising Gill’s game.

“He was one of my favorite players in Euroleague. I think he’s a great player, very smart, he’s done a lot of great things for Khimki, and I’m excited that we can play together right now and just combine.”

Deni Avdija – Credit: Dov Halickman

While on the topic of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Avdija had nothing but praise for his former team, “Maccabi is a great club and now when I’m here in the NBA with the Wizards you understand and appreciate how much they helped you. There is a difference in the level of organization for sure and I’m appreciative as to what Maccabi did for me. The Wizards are amazing so far.

Avdija looks to have a legitimate opportunity to contribute for a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference in D.C. as early as this season, and his willingness to deflect praise and learn from others bodes well for his long-term future in the NBA.

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