Deni Avdija could be the perfect addition for the San Antonio Spurs
With the NBA draft now just around the corner, draft hype is at an all-time high. Rumors, innuendo, speculation, any word you’d like to describe what’s going on during the pre-draft process, is taking place at an alarming rate.
One thing is for certain though, teams will be working out a plethora of talents both in and out of their draft range over the coming weeks. The position the teams are in currently can change very quickly on draft night.
Draft night trades are becoming more common than ever, it’s a path that the San Antonio Spurs have done in cases in the previous decade as well. Going down that path is entirely a possibility San Antonio can choose, should they be committed to making Deni their pick.
Avdija is a 6’9 forward who has one of the best offensive skillsets in this draft. A crafty shooter and scorer, with a passing ability out of various sets and scenarios that make you drool as a talent evaluator.
He projects to be a day one starter in the NBA, but with one of the better developmental staff in the NBA out of San Antonio, he could benefit from a year playing with the Austin Spurs.
When looking at a draft class like this that is weaker in superstar ability yet plentiful in the role players department, Deni is somewhere in the middle. He can give you All-Star production should he progress under the right developmental staff. In the Spurs case he’s a perfect fit for them in this draft.
Here are three reasons why Deni Avdija is a perfect fit for the Alamo City.
Next: Modernize the offense
Aug 2, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; San Antonio Spurs’ Derrick White (4) confers with teammates Rudy Gay (22), DeMar DeRozan (10) and others during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Deni Avdija would give the San Antonio Spurs a great modern-day wing
Despite not being the greatest athlete in this draft, likely not the greatest athlete at his own position in this class, Deni’s playstyle revolves around skill and attention to detail above all else.
You see that clearly when you begin to watch the tape. He can score and shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor. The variety of shot ranges he’s shown to be comfortable from, for such a young player, is astounding. He displays his versatile passing ability throughout various offensive sets while body-wise he provides an archetype that can show him to run at any position 1-4.
He currently holds offensive instincts that rival the best in the class, as he projects to be one of the better offensive talents in this class with ease.
In the current NBA, playmaking forwards has shown to be one of the more important assets to have in the playoffs. Avdija provides the playmaking ability that you need from the forward spot while being a highly translatable talent at the next level as a scorer.
What leads us to believe his skills offensively translate at the next level is his remarkable play in one of the better overseas leagues this past season. Statistics won’t shock you, but his game just screams that he can be a dynamic offensive forward at the next level.
Avdija finished at the rim at a 76 percent clip. He’s shown to have a plethora of finishing moves that he’s willing to use. He’s not the craftiest of finishers but remains strong and in control when driving to the rack.
Through contact, he’s one of the better finishers in this class, something that’ll continue to be a strong suit of his once he puts more muscle on his frame. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands all the time to score either. He placed in the 82nd percentile on scoring off cuts to the basket and has shown a knack for making smart, decisive cuts that make it easy for his teammates o find him.
His play around the rim is efficient and effective. He’s proven to be one of the better post-passers in the class with his play last season, as well as scoring in the post at an efficient clip of 52.6 percent.
He’s more than an “around the rim” presence though, as he shot a tick above 33 percent from distance last season. There’s not a ton of shot versatility as he’s shooting the NBA-standard of shots, threes, or layups. Still, he’s shown that he can strike from deep, as well as score off the dribble.
His overall ball-handle in the half-court isn’t one that will rival someone like Kyrie Irving, but it’s effective, quick, and well thought out. He uses his handle to create open space for his three-point shots, and his handle is at a level where he can get to his right hand and score off the bounce at the basket.
His play isn’t limited offensively in any sense despite not being an explosive athlete. He’s shown flashes of excellent pick and roll play both as a facilitator and a scorer, as well as high upside as an isolation scorer. Avdija placed in the 93rd-percentile in terms of isolation scoring, so by no means is his offensive game vanilla or one dimensional in any sense.
This is just the scoring aspect, we can go on and on about his passing upside. At this stage in his career, he’s best used as a playmaking forward.
He’s one of the smartest and most efficient passers in this draft. He can pass out of multiple plays and sets, from the pick and roll to the drive-and-kick, his passing isn’t limited in any sense. He seems to always be a step ahead with the ball in his hands when he’s looking to distribute. Considering he’s one of the most efficient passers out of the pick and roll, that fits beautifully with a Spurs roster that currently holds two of the top-ten pick and roll ball-handlers according to NBA.com in DeMar DeRozan and Derrick White.
His fit offensively translates to being a playmaking forward right out of the box, as he can provide production at both the small forward and power forward spots.
San Antonio has had a hole in those spots for the past couple of seasons, with the selection of Avdija, they finally fill the void there with an exceptional offensive talent that they desperately need.
Next: Avdija brings energy on defense
Jan 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dunks against San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) and guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Deni Avdija would improve the San Antonio Spurs inside the arc defense
As mentioned, Avdija isn’t the greatest athlete at his position, but he uses his body and his IQ to his advantage. You see that at a premium on the defensive end of the floor.
Standing 6’9, with a 6’9 wingspan, his body size places him to be a starting small forward or a small-ball power forward. Either way, he provides versatility at both forward spots due to his rangy offensive skillset, and his high-level team defense.
Two things San Antonio lacked this season from their forward spot was dynamic offensive outputs and in totality, defense. While you just read what Deni can provide on offense, he provides solid team defense, strong rim rotations, and an overall high defensive motor that keeps him locked in on that part of the floor.
Despite not being the best lateral mover on defense, his motor is evident on closeouts on defending the three-point line. Players shot a combined 10-44 from the top of the key and the left-wing when defended by him. Not only that, anywhere from what’s deemed the mid-range or the long two, opposing teams shot a combined 5-16 when guarded by Deni.
But in this pace and space era, last season the three-point line didn’t kill the Spurs as much as you’d think. Two-point shots absolutely torched the silver and black.
San Antonio was one of the worst defensive teams when it comes to opponents’ two-point field-goal shooting percentages.
Opposing teams shot 52.7 percent when shooting inside the three-point line. That placed San Antonio sixth-worst in the NBA in terms of opponents’ field-goal percentage.
Good thing for Deni and the Spurs though, as he is one of the best defenders inside the three-point line in this draft. The selection of him would instantly improve this lackadaisical two-point defense.
Avdija placed in the 88th percentile when defending post-ups, interesting enough, despite being listed as a small forward, his primary defensive possessions had him defending the paint.
Opposing defenders shot only 49% at the rim in the half-court when defended by Deni, and from any range inside the free-throw line, he kept the opposition from scoring at a fantastic rate. Inside the free-throw line, opposing teams shot a combined 4-29 from the field when defended by Avdija.
His presence inside the free-throw line is a fantastic fit for the Spurs going forward should they select him. The addition of Deni would give the Spurs a long-term fix for their interior defensive woes, as well as a solid team defender whose IQ is above many on that end of the floor in his draft class.
His motor and ability to defend the rim/inside the three-point line give the Spurs a sense of versatility on that end of the floor. Despite not having a lot of looks as a pick and roll defender, his main issue is getting to the point of attack quickly enough, but mentally he’s there. Athletically and frame-wise he isn’t where he needs to be, but with NBA strength and conditioning he can get to where the Spurs need him to be.
His rim rotations are very strong, that would be a huge plus for a San Antonio Spurs team that lacks strong rim and interior defenders. Overall, he is a strong force inside the three-point line on defense. His track record proves that he can impact a defense positively on that end of the floor, something the Spurs are lacking tremendously right now.
Next: He can be a cornerstone of the franchise
Deni Avdija can be the San Antonio Spurs long-term answer at forward
San Antonio desperately needs versatility and starter-level production from its forward spot. Currently playing a trio of players like DeMar DeRozan, Keldon Johnson, and Lonnie Walker outside of their collegiate positions to compensate at the two forward spots, the addition of Avdija gives the Spurs a perfect fit there going forward.
He works well enough off the ball as a cutter to fit with a roster of veterans like DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, guys that tend to thrive with the ball in their hands.
He’s also polished enough to work as a pick and roll player in an offense surrounded by guys like White and Jakob Poeltl, both of whom work well in the pick and roll, in different roles.
Not only will the selection of him finally place other members of the roster back in their original positions but Deni provides a sense of security going forward at his position. While many think he projects to become a power forward in the NBA, his skillset currently translates to being able to play both forward positions, a “combo forward” if you will.
Nonetheless, he’s your answer at one of the forward spots going into this next decade of Spurs basketball. The skillset is evident, the translation in his game is evident, now it’s all about development.
There would be no better situation for him than to become a San Antonio Spur. Development wise, he’d be dealing with one of the best developmental staffs in the league.
His game fits seamlessly on both sides of the court, in both factions of Spurs basketball. Whether he begins to play in year one with this group of veterans that San Antonio currently has, or if they decide to tear it all down, Avdija works with both possibilities.
The upside is real with this one, as he projects to be a top of the rotation starter. One that should a team develop him correctly, can become an All-Star in the NBA.
That means a lot for a team like San Antonio who’s searching for their next star. Whether it be one that has foreign roots or one that’s from the United States, they are looking for the next face of their franchise.
Avdija has the potential to be that guy. San Antonio hasn’t been in the lottery much in my 22 years of life, one way to assure themselves that they won’t be in here more often would be with the selection of a stud like Deni Avdija.