The case for and against Knicks trading up to select Deni Avdija in 2020 NBA Draft

Scott Thompson
·3 min read
Deni Avdija
Deni Avdija

The 2020 NBA Draft is next week and the Knicks are still preparing for what they might do with the No. 8 overall pick they currently possess. Do they trade back, trade up or stay put? 

Well, if they want a crack at drafting the best international prospect in this year's list of prospects, trading up will have to happen. 

Israeli-born Deni Avdija is a 6-foot-9 forward whose game emulates what today's best in the NBA are doing. Normally the European style of play revolves around fundamentals that requires finesse and a lack of imagination, so to speak. Avdija has the fundamentals but his style and well, trash talk, will be fun to watch when he reaches the States. 

Do the Knicks make a Draft Day move to try and land the Maccabi Tel Aviv star? Let's break down the case for and against it...

Case for trading up to draft Avdija

At just 19 years old, Avdija's play-making abilities are top notch. He has multiple ways of scoring, which includes a desire to go to the rack and initiate contact or pull up for a jumper. He knows how to use his length well, and as NBA.com's Eric Fawcett put it, "incredibly intelligent when moving away from the ball he feasts on easy buckets from back cuts and slipped screens when he sees a lapse in defense."

Avdija also doesn't have to be the main playmaker for his team, which would benefit those like RJ Barrett who want to create on offense as well. But make no mistake, experts believe his game can translate very well to the modern NBA and his scoring abilities still have more room to grow.

But on the other side of the ball, Avdija can defend like no one's business. As we've noted, he use his mental capacity for the game as well as his length to defend and create pressure on scorers. That would bode well with Tom Thibodeau as Avdija's head coach, with defense being such an emphasis. 

Can you imagine Avdija and the defense-savvy Frank Ntilikina on the floor at the same time? These two in the front court would make it very tough on opponents. 

Finally, the Knicks don't have a solidified small forward at the moment. Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington are not guaranteed a return next season so it's wide open for Avdija to fill right in. 

With room to grow everywhere, Avdija is primed to develop into a star in the NBA. The Knicks have the right coaching in place and he has all the tools. 

Case against trading for Avdija

He may be a proven commodity on defense, but Avdija is still a risk offensively. He averaged just 15 points per 36 minutes which is low compared to the other top options on the board.

Also, his jumper can use some work based off his numbers. At 28 percent from three last season, Avdija couldn't find his stroke from beyond the arc. His numbers weren't hurt bad, though, because he was 60 percent from two-point range. 

The Knicks have noted wanting a point guard that can score from anywhere, including a solid three-point shot. Avdija can develop a better shooting stroke but do the Knicks spend draft capital to bet on that? They may want to stay in the point guard line to be safer. 

It will also be a big trade package, too, because Avdija has been projected in the Top 3 of some mock drafts. The Knicks would need to jump up there to be sure they land him instead of going in the Top 5. 

There is a lot to like about Avdija but is it going to be a long-term project? The Knicks might not want that even though they're rebuilding. More NBA ready prospects are on the draft board and can be selected later than Avdija.