An NBA Week from the Basketball Gods
The NBA draft and the first week of free agency has been nothing less than exhilarating. The first overall pick, Anthony Edwards, apparently doesn’t like basketball, the reigning champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, have built up an incredible roster including the 2020 6th man of the year, the runner-up to the same award and some veteran studs, and James Harden wants out! However, what has hit the Lost Tribe Esports community the closest to the heart, is the TWO Israeli players being taken in the same draft!
Two Israeli Players!?
Yep, TWO Israeli players were drafted last week. Deni Avdija and Yam Madar are putting Maccabi on the map as they cross over from Hummus to Bacon. Well, maybe not Bacon but the future of the NBA is bright and kosher with these two young mensches. Deni, drafted by the Washington Wizards, is preemptively being called the “steal of the draft”. Taken at #9 overall, Deni Avdija falls into an impressive list of “question mark” international players such as fan favorites, Luke Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. I’m not saying that Deni is going to live up to these MVP favorites, but there seems to be a consistent fear of risk when international players hit the NBA.
The Rise of International Players
We have seen in the past teams get burned by drafting international, but times have changed. Basketball has grown globally and so have our abilities to scout players. As more international players begin to excel in the league, Deni may be the final straw before NBA owners allow them to drop in the draft. Luka was the OBVIOUS number 1 overall pick in 2018, absolutely dominating the second best league in the world. He was taken at number 3 and then traded on draft day, and now 29 teams are shuffling to put together a lineup to compete before the Luka era really begins.
Welcome Yam Madar!
Many NBA fans knew of Deni Avdija before last week, however, only the real devout NBA fans had Yam Madar on their radar. Yam, drafted 47th overall by the Boston Celtics, is a young, incredibly skilled point guard, from Tel Aviv. He has played for the Israeli National Team two years in a row, and should take on a very minor role on a championship contending team. That being said, coming to a Brad Stephen’s led team is always a great position to be in for hard-working guards. If Yam is able to work his tail off on defense and secure some turnovers, he could very well work himself into a role. Stephens loves to rewards players for their scrappy play and nobody is too good to dive for a loose ball. I love this fit for Yam and hope he is able to carve out an early presence.
If you don’t know Deni Avdija, learn the name. Deni has been labeled the greatest basketball prospect Israel has ever had for the past two years. At just 19 years old, he already has a very impressive trophy room. Deni has won the Israeli League Most Valuable Player award, two gold medals for the Israeli Youth Team, including one of them at the FIBA U20 European Championship, where he took home the MVP. Standing at 6’9″, Deni plays a point-forward position, with a very well rounded game. He can do it all, score, pass and defend, and is not afraid to get in deep with the big guys. Coming to a Washington team still struggling to find their identity, Deni should have an immediate role. Joining Bradley Beal and John Wall (assuming Wall remains in Washington), Deni shouldn’t have trouble finding open space to work with, and may be able to put up strong numbers, on a high pace team. A triple-threat with professional basketball in the Avdija family tree, the sky is the limit here and I can’t wait to watch him prosper.
Mazal Tov to both young talents and the rest of the recent draftees in the 2020 class. In a year where there is no consensus top pick, everyone is on the edge of their seats for December 22nd. Players are developing quicker than ever before and we will undoubtedly have some rookies playing like all-stars this season. Nobody will be able to predict who that is until the season develops, but Yam and Deni have the attention of Jewish people around the world.