Deni Avdija now deserves to be in that conversation. The 19-year-old forward is playing a key role for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the EuroLeague, and he has a real chance to end up as the best player in this class.
"He has great size and a good feel for the game," said former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams, who recently guarded Avdija. "There are players all over the world who are talented, but what really sets Deni apart is his confidence and basketball IQ."
Over his past 10 games, Avdija has posted per-40-minute marks of 18.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks, while shooting 65% from 2 and 42% from 3. In his last two EuroLeague contests (both wins), he's averaged 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 23 minutes. He has bought into his role as a defender, spot shooter and occasional creator in EuroLeague play, while tapping into more of a playmaker role in the lesser Israeli League.
The improving production is nice to see, but why exactly does Avdija deserve to be mentioned in the draft's upper echelon? After spending five days in Tel Aviv scouting multiple practices, individual workout and games, I'll take a look at that question and some more international scouting highlights.