Different events around the world expose great basketball talents. In Europe, the Adidas Next Generation Tournament is well known to be one of the best showcases for young prospects. We’ve been in Munich, at the second qualifier of the tournament, for scouting the most exciting players born in 2001/2002/2003.
A quick introduction: the tournament is organized by Euroleague Basketball, the top-tier European professional basketball club competition. There are four regional rounds in 4 different locations (Valencia, Munich, Kaunas, and Belgrade). 8 teams per round, the winners of each of the four regional tournaments qualify to the Final Four qualification tournament.
The first profile is on Deni Avdija, the Israeli 6’9 guard who shined as a primary ball handler for most of the tournament, finishing in the All-Tournament Team and showing how he’s able to create in transition and tough situations.
Even if he needs no presentation for what he accomplished at FIBA U20 European Championship and for being the youngest player ever to play for Maccabi at age 16 years, Deni is currently averaging more than 10 minutes per game with the Maccabi’s senior team. He’s playing more as a guard/small forward at the moment with limited tasks as a playmaker.
Pargo, Wilbekin and Dibartolomeo are all above the average point guards considering the Winner League (domestic league of Israel) level.
This is the longer and more detailed workout video of Deni focusing on his step back and his footwork to create separation from the perimeter. Jonathan Givony’s tweeted about him three weeks ago.
But why has he been so special to watch? Which skills could raise his draft stocks?
Big guards who can read 2-man plays as 3-man plays looking at the corners, at the open teammates besides the screener, are increasingly sought-after in the NBA. Deni is already filling this category with his U18 peers, and he’s working to assume this role consistently against the organized and more physical defense of the top European clubs.
Phenomenal touch and court vision. He’s not stopping the flow in transition. As soon as he gets in the air, he sees how the defense is reacting. Weakside help is quite poor.
Another attractive combo skill for NBA teams is securing defensive rebounds and throwing outlet passes.
Head up, sneaking a peak, get out immediately on the fastbreak. He’s already looking down the court for the pass after securing boards. Sometimes he throws the ball too long, with difficult catches and almost a turnover as a result.
Deni’s size was just unmatched for any other participating point guard. He often maintained a clear view even when trapped.
What is also helping him to solve double teams is his footwork: polished, stable and crafty. He sprints towards the second helper down low for clearing spaces for his teammates on the corner.
Nice use of both hands to change direction near the rim when he posts up.
SHOOTING & SCORING
Deni shot 45.5 percent from 3 in the first three qualifier games, but against the more aggressive defense on the pick and rolls, his shooting accuracy dropped.
Real Madrid was the only team with personnel for hedging hard on every high screen and roll. Garuba and Sylla can both switch and recover, or stay with the ball handler contesting his shots properly.
Even though Deni is more a creator than a pure shooting guard, he displayed a pretty solid jumper throughout the tournament.
Maccabi let him worked off-ball on flare screens between the top of the key and the wing spot with good results.
Great balance, good stop-and-go moves. He maybe uses too much his left hand to create separation.
On drags and high ball screens, he frequently drives on the opposite side of the screen. No fear of finishing in the traffic, when they’re hedging on him, he knows how to handle the ball.
When he can control the ball with such high volume of possessions, he loves one thing: playing at a high pace basketball.
He’s looking for exciting bounce passes in 4vs2 situations. Sometimes he takes risky choices when is not needed.
When he has to slow down, he’s a little bit less confident and a little bit more predictable. He can over-commit on closeouts.
His high IQ will help him with learning how to play at different speeds. Among pros, much of his progress will go through how he’ll react to half-court defense when coach Sfairopoulos let him play more minutes with the ball in his hands. He’s just at the beginning of his maturation as a point guard. Whatever path he’ll follow, is going to be an exciting run.