Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
The 2020 NBA draft may present a rare year in which the team with the No. 2 pick has more at stake than the team selecting first.
After an injury-plagued season interrupted the Golden State Warriors‘ dynasty this year, the franchise earned a massive opportunity to extend its championship window with a top-two pick in the draft. That will let the club target the best fit for the current roster rather than the best available player.
According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, that player may very well be forward Deni Avdija.
Letourneau reports the Warriors have flown to Israel multiple times in recent years to watch Avdija with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and he’s believed to sit higher on the club’s draft board than the likes of LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman.
“Personally, I’m not totally sure why Deni isn’t being mentioned with LaMelo [Ball], [James] Wiseman and [Anthony] Edwards as a possibility at No. 1,” an anonymous scout told Letourneau. “He has a proven track record against elite competition, and he has all the intangibles to become a great player in this league for a long, long time.”
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman’s last big board ranked Avdija the sixth-best player in this year’s draft class, but he believes a trade with the Chicago Bulls for the No. 4 pick may make sense for Golden State to both move back in the draft and increase its asset pool:
“Dominant in FIBA, the MVP of the Israeli League and useful in EuroLeague as a teenager, Deni Avdija is easy to buy as a pro. He’s put on considerable muscle at 6’8″, as well. He checks boxes with his transition attack, ball-screen driving and passing and set shot-making. And he’s been successful playing different roles, one as a lead option and the other working as a complementary spot-up player (EuroLeague).
“He should continue to excel as a fast-break and off-ball scorer based on his physical tools, functional athletic ability and competent catch-and-shoot three-ball. He’s skilled and unselfish enough to get teammates involved, another plus that should translate.”
Wasserman has forward Obi Toppin, point guard Killian Hayes, center Onyeka Okongwu, Edwards and Ball listed ahead of Avdija heading into the draft.
Given the depth of the Warriors’ backcourt with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole and Ky Bowman, adding another big body may make the most sense this offseason.
That could make the versatile Avdija a worthy target in the draft.