Israel's brightest basketball prospect Deni Avdija could make NBA history on Wednesday and become the nation's highest-ever pick in the draft.
The 19-year-old, 2.06 meters (6'9"), Maccabi Tel Aviv and Israeli national team forward is expected to rank among the event's top 5 picks, with several teams already rumored to have their eyes on him, including the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
In the 2019-2020 season of the Israeli Basketball Premier League, Avdija averaged 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1 steal per game; shooting 52% from the field and 35% from beyond the arch.
Maccabi also won the championship that year and Avdija was crowned the season's MVP.
He also made a name for himself during the FIBA U20 European Championship, leading the Israeli national team to two consecutive championships in 2018 and 2019, and winning the latter's Finals MVP.
However, free-throw accuracy remains Avdija's Achilles' heel, managing only 59% from the line.
"It’s a matter of time and I think it’s a matter of the mind," he said during an interview with Israeli media. "I think I can shoot even above 70%. I’m going to get there."
"I just want to be the best Deni Avdija I can be. I just don’t want to be compared to anybody."
His father, Zufer Avdija, played for the Yugoslavian national team and later moved to Israel, where he played professionally for a number of Israeli clubs.
Avdija will be the third Israeli to play in the NBA, following in the footsteps of Maccabi teammate Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel.