After the blockbuster trade this summer when the Wizards sent longtime point guard John Wall to the Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook, hopes in Washington were high. However, that hope has quickly been dashed as the team has not mesh, and finds themselves near the bottom of the league. One of the lone positives so far has been the quality play from rookie forward Deni Avdija.
The 9th overall pick made news at the draft last November, becoming the highest ever Jewish player selected to play in the NBA, and the first lottery pick. With this notable feat comes extra attention, and the young basketball player would be wise to take the advice on how to handle the big stage.
One advantage the rookie may have over some of his peers is that he has already played pro basketball in his career over in Israel, so he has experience at what that kind of life involves. He also has the advantage of having played on a team with longtime an NBA veteren, Amar’e Stoudamire (more: Israel National News), who also happens to be Jewish.
When his 14-year career in the NBA came to an end, the former NBA Rookie of the Year took his talents overseas to extend his basketball playing career, and eventually landed in Maccabi Tel Aviv, alongside Deni Avdija.
This is where the two players become close, with Amar’e Stoudamire in the mentor role for the young prospect. With such a long career in the NBA, with 6 All-Star appearances and 5 All-NBA teams, there is plenty of wisdom he has racked up in his time for him to pass along.
Certainly getting advice from another Jewish player, let alone somebody with the resume of Amar’e Stoudamire can only help when beginning your career. And it’s a great honor, considering the former Phoenix Suns star could have been in South Florida, enjoying his multi-million dollar mansion and the spotlight.
Fantasy and Gambling Perspectives
While Deni Avdija may have notable heritage, what fantasy league basketball players are looking for is his production on the court. While many were not high on his prospects for this year, where he was averaged as the 139th drafted player on ESPN, he has come out and shown he can perform at a high level.
Through the first 20 games of his career, he’s averaging 7.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game, all in just over 23 minutes. Now, these obviously aren’t All-Star level numbers, but when you’re in the weeds of a fantasy league, it’s about finding value.
On ESPN, he’s only rostered on 8.7% of teams right now, so there is still a lot of availability for him in most leagues. He’s the type of player who came into the league as a bit of a project, but has shown flashes of the raw ability the team wants to develop, like when he scored 20 points, had 5 rebounds and 5 assists against the Heat in January.
That is the type of talent that the Washington Wizards want him to continue to put out, but the rookie has had his ups and downs. For those in a fantasy league, these swings in play can be hard to predict, but if you hit on the right player make all the difference.
Along with interest from that community, the gamblers out there who might be placing a wager on a sports betting app might be curious to know where he stands in the Rookie of the Year race.
He’s a longshot in the odds, currently with him sitting at +15000 for the award according to OddShark. Oddly enough, that puts him in ninth place in terms of odds, so exactly where he was drafted.
He might be seeing better chances if it weren’t for the outstanding play of fellow rookies Lamelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, who have both shined so far and are the clear two favorites from the draft class.
The Wizards may likely be out of the playoff race already, and this season may already be lost. But one thing fans and the organization can build on is that Deni Avdija has shown signs that he was the right pick for the team, and that he will represent the Jewish community well over his career.