The 2020 NBA Draft is almost here and the elite prospects are beginning to separate themselves.
One of the most enticing players of this draft class is 19-year-old forward Deni Avdija, an Israeli that played in the EuroLeague for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Avdija is projected to go in the top-five of each of our NBA.com mock drafts, as I had him going No. 4 overall and our other draft expert Eric Fawcett had him going as early as No. 2 in his latest mock.
As a perennial top-five pick, lets see how Avdija's skillset fits in with each team that has a top draft selection.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
The masses have the Timberwolves linked to top guards in the draft in Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball, but a point forward like Avdija could work seamlessly alongside young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, too.
Comfortable as a primary ball handler, Avdija could take some of that pressure off of Russell and give him the opportunity to strictly look to score in certain games. At 6-foot-9, he and Towns make for a towering and versatile pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop tandem that will cause matchup nightmares for opposing teams. He also adds a capable defender to a team that ranked among the league's worst on that end of the floor last season, giving Minnesota an option that can matchup with guards, forwards or bigs.
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All in all, Avdija's playmaking would unlock even more offensive success for the Timberwolves two franchise cornerstones.
2. Golden State Warriors
According to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss, the Warriors were "blown away" by Avdija's workout in front of the franchise's officials.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise as 6-foot-9 forwards that have the ball handling, passing and decision-making skills of savvy point guards don't grow on trees. Now that the veteran playmakers of Golden State's dynasty like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are off the roster, the team could certainly use a secondary playmaker of Avdija's calibre.
He would gain full control over the team's second unit, making life easy for scoring forward Eric Paschall who's coming off of an impressive All-Rookie season. When he shares the floor with Stephen Curry, he'd allow head coach Steve Kerr to take the ball out of his two-time MVP's hands as a passer and let him - and Klay Thompson - focus on coming off of a series of screens to try and find an open look.
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The versatility of an Avdija, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins lineup is terrifying for the rest of the league. While Avdija may not take on a large role with Warriors the way he would with other teams toward the top of the draft, learning under experienced and successful stars that Golden State posses would be invaluable.
3. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets already have their backcourt set in stone with Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier, although it appears as though a three-guard offence isn't completely out of the question with the potential to select Ball or Edwards. If they went with Avdija, he would give Charlotte the opportunity to use both Graham and Rozier off-ball without sacrificing any height on the defensive end of the floor.
Graham was the Hornets primary ball handler last season during his Most Improved-worthy campaign, and while he's a strong playmaker, he's at his best when he's letting it fly from 3. Finishing fifth in the NBA in 3-pointers made (218 3s at a 37% clip), he would immediately benefit from playing alongside a passer like Avdija.
Rozier got much more comfortable playing shooting guard next to Graham last season, making strides as a cutter and off-ball scorer with the best shooting splits of his career. With Avdija running the show and teams keying on preventing Graham from getting loose from beyond the arc, Rozier would thrive as a secondary scorer.
Avdija also pairs well next to 2018 lottery pick Miles Bridges and 2019 lottery pick P.J. Washington, as that young trio would make for a versatile small-ball frontcourt that could really allow Charlotte to push the pace. The Hornets would be a great place to watch Avdija try and reach star-level as fast as possible.
4. Chicago Bulls
Avdija to the Bulls would present a similar situation to that of the Hornets above.
Chicago's backcourt of fringe All-Star Zach LaVine and All-Rookie selection Coby White possesses two guards that can score the rock. While White will likely be the starting point guard on opening night, he - like the aforementioned Graham - is better when he's looking to score first. LaVine is coming off of the best scoring season of his six-year career averaging 25.5 points per game, and that was without an elite playmaker feeding him the ball. Selecting Avdija would give the Bulls a chance to have both White and LaVine working off-ball, which would allow new head coach Billy Donovan to maximize their potential offensively.
MORE: Deni Avdija's scouting report
Chicago also has a promising young forward in Lauri Markkanen who could make for another massive pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop tandem with Avdija to really make opposing teams uncomfortable on the defensive end. He'd slot perfectly into their lineup as a wing on the defensive end but a point forward on offence.
Like Charlotte, the Bulls would be another premier spot for Avdija to try and grow into a star player sooner rather than later.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
While it's hard to believe a player with Avdija's talent and potential would still be on the board at pick No. 5, it's still worth assessing his fit with Cleveland.
Toward the end of last season, the Cavaliers found out quickly that 2018 top-10 Collin Sexton is at his best when he's playing alongside a playmaker. Once Cleveland moved Matthew Dellavedova into the starting lineup at point guard, Sexton took his game to another level averaging 29.5 points per game shooting 57% from the field. Now imagine what he could do with a passer of Avdija's calibre running the show?
Working alongside Kevin Love would only bring out the best in Avdija as well, making for a threatening pick-and-pop duo or, finding Love spotting up in the corner after working with one of the Cavaliers bigs. Learning from a respected veteran like Love, a player who re-created his game throughout his career to become a much better perimeter shooter, would be major for any concerns with Avdija's jumper.
Again, it's hard to imagine Avdija is still on the board here, but if so, Cleveland would be smart to act on his availability and pick the 19-year-old Israeli.
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