Wizards GM: Deni Avdija “checked all of our boxes”

Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija drives to the basket during an overseas game.

The Wizards were surprised to see Deni Avdija fall to No. 9, though they were elated to have the opportunity to draft the 19-year-old.

“We were very grateful he fell to nine,” GM Tommy Sheppard told me and other local media members via zoom. “He checked all of our boxes.”

The Wizards have put a major emphasis on international scouting since Sheppard took over GM duties. Last year, the team took Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 overall pick. While Hachimura went to Gonzaga, he was on Sheppard’s radar prior to coming stateside. The executive added that this year’s pick, Avdija, has been on his radar since the Israeli-native was 16.

“He tells about these guys that he’s been following for years…He did it with Rui too,” Scott Brooks told me and other local media members via Zoom.

Brooks believes in Advija’s work ethic and is impressed by the level of competition he’s faced while playing abroad.

“Most of his career, he’s played with guys that are older than him,” Brooks said while touching on the rarity of that.

When asked about whether Hachimura and Avdija can play together, Brooks joked that he’s “been trying to figure that out for the last 30 minutes” referring to the time frame between when the team drafted him and when he spoke to the media.

Brooks said he didn’t speak with Avdija prior to the team taking him in the first round. He added that he’s sure that Sheppard has spoken to him and he’s excited to speak with Avdija on Thursday.

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