Scott Brooks 'thankful' Deni Avdija fell to Wizards at No. 9 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
With Thanksgiving a week away, the Wizards already found something to be thankful for when they sit down to feast.
Deni Avdija, a consensus top-10 pick heading into the 2020 NBA Draft was not expected to be on the board when the Wizards were picking at No. 9. As arguably the top international prospect in this year's class along with Killian Hayes, the Israeli wing could've gone as high as No. 2 to the Warriors.
Instead, he fell right into Tommy Sheppard and Scott Brooks' lap, and they didn't hesitate to add the talented, two-way player to their core of Bradley Beal, John Wall and Rui Hachimura.
"He was definitely very high on our board," Brooks told the Sports Junkies Thursday. "I'm very thankful he came to us because that's a guy we felt was a need and we felt he could step in and contribute pretty quick and that's hard to do as a 19-year-old. He isn't even 20 yet.
"He's going to give us great minutes and he's going to fight for those minutes and from what I understand and what I've seen, he's willing to fight hard for those minutes," he said. "He's really a competitive young man."
Avdija is a tantalizing prospect at 6'9 and 225 pounds. He has an advanced handle and playmaking ability for a player at his size and age and has serious upside as a scorer if he can become a consistent shooter. From all accounts, his form looks as if it will translate to the NBA level once he gets proper instruction and repetition with the Wizards' development staff.
But what might set Avdija apart from other players in the top 10 is how he plays the game. It's something that really stuck out to Brooks, and we all know how much he loves to coach tough-minded players.
"Well, he plays with a swagger," Brooks said after the pick was made Wednesday. "He has a good confidence about him. He’s not going to back down. Chances are for a young player to come in and dominate right away is very slim. But what I do like about him he’s not going to back down, he’s going to compete. He’s going to make our practices very competitive.
"I love his IQ. I love his toughness," he said. "And I love guys that want to be in the gym, that want to get better. They’re never satisfied with just an average day at work. He’s going to give us an honest days work and his character is extremely high. He’s just another piece to our team, we’re building. Sometimes it takes a piece at a time and we got a good piece tonight."
Two of the Wizards' most significant needs entering the draft were a defensive-minded big and two-way production on the wing. Avdija checks off the second box and could ultimately start alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall, creating a potentially potent three-man perimeter unit that can all make plays, score and defend at a high level.
"I haven’t talked to either [Wall or Beal] since we had the pick, it was only a few minutes ago but I will talk shortly," Brooks said. "They are going to be fine. They are going to be really good and they saw what we’ve done last year, we cleaned up a lot of things up and we got a lot of high character guys that want to get better and you know the maturation process is a slow-developing process."
For more interviews, tune into Sports Junkies on NBC Sports Washington, weekdays from 6-10 a.m.