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.
“He was definitely the highest player left on our board,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard who has been following Avdija’s progression for a number of years. “Our international scouts have been on this kid since he was 16. I would call him a blend player. Whoever’s out on the floor, he’s able to make plays.”
With the selection, Avdija becomes Israel’s first ever lottery pick, joining Omri Caspi 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.
“I love his toughness. I love his IQ. … He steps on his court and competes,” said Brooks.
Avdija joins a Wizards team which featured in the NBA bubble this past season, finishing ninth overall, with a record of 25 to 47.
“You’re waiting for every pick and butterflies are going around in your stomach,” Avdija explained at a press conference for the Israeli media following his selection. “I had no expectations and I was ready for any situation. Being the 9th pick and in the top ten is amazing for our country and I’m super excited to get going.”
“I had a short conversation with the Wizards and everyone so far has shown me that it’s a great club. The entire staff cheered for me when I was selected and that all wanted me to feel at home. It’s a great city, the capital of the United States and there’s the White House.”
As for what he will be able to offer the team during the upcoming season, Avdija promises that he will do whatever is asked of him and whatever it takes to win games, “I’m not thinking about how many minutes I’ll get and how much I’ll be on the court. But rather I’m looking at what I can do to help the team win games. I will do everything I can to win games. This is going to be a great journey.”
“My parents and my country have shown so much pride, they are all part of me and will be with me for my entire career going forward. My message to the children of Israel is that I’ve shown them that if you work hard and you do the maximum then you will get far in life.”
Avdija will be heading over to Washington over the course if the coming days and he is well aware that he will now be an unofficial ambassador for the State, “Am Israel is the best and I’m looking forward to representing our country. I’ll work hard to make everyone proud.”
Once he arrives in Washington, Avdija will have quarantine and then head straight to training camp to get ready for the 2020/21 season which opens on December 22, “I will give everything that I have to the club. I know what I can do and I’m happy Washington thrusts me and believes in me. I’ll do everything that I can.”
Avdija now has the opportunity to make an impact on the local Jewish communities around the Washington area and throughout North America where he will be looked up to as a hero, “We’re one big family and I’ll be sure that I can represent the best way that I can and make the Jewish communities proud and everyone around me proud as well.”