“This draft is anything but ordinary,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as he opened the 2020 NBA draft Wednesday night, delayed from its usual June spot multiple times to November.
The 2020 NBA season, which is wrapping up, was one for the history books. One of the historic aspects of the draft Nov. 18 was the ninth-round pick of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Deni Avdija by the Washington Wizards. The pick represented the first time an Israeli player has made the top 10 picks, second time for a first-round pick, and is believed to be only the third Israeli player to ever play for the NBA.
Initially, he was expected to be picked earlier in the draft, with ESPN’s draft experts placing him as the “perfect pick” for the Hawks in the sixth round. But he was still seen as one of the best players of this draft, according to sports authorities.
Known as the “Prince of Tel Aviv,” Avdija is considered by many to be the future of Israeli basketball, and remarked after the draft that “I am super excited and ready to [take] my game to the next level…” To his fans and family, he added, “I am going to make you proud.”
NBA analyst Mike Breen even said after the draft announcement that, “I think this will be the steal of the draft. … When we look back five years from now, we are going to see a guy who could be the best player to come out of this draft.”
The 19-year-old has been the star since 2017 of Maccabi Tel Aviv, for which he has been playing as forward. He was born in Beit Zera, a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee, to parents with a history of athletic accomplishments. His father played basketball many seasons in the Israeli League and his mother ran track and field.
Deni Avdija has been playing basketball since the age of 8, and only eight years later was playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv as the youngest player in franchise history. Recognized as one of the best international basketball players, he was named tournament MVP for the FIBA U20 European Championship, as well as receiving a variety of other international basketball awards.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 19, 2020
In other noteworthy news related to the draft, the night began with NBA fans looking to Atlanta as Anthony Edwards, shooting guard from the University of Georgia, was the first pick, chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Across town, the Atlanta Hawks looked to continue to build around their “centerpiece” player, Trae Young. Going 20-47 last season, some analysts described it as a “growing pains” season as the Hawks failed to make it to the “NBA Bubble,” the Disney World sports complex near Orlando, to even compete to make it to the playoffs. While the Hawks saw longtime NBA player and eight-time all-star Vince Carter retire, they used their sixth round pick this season to bring in a new big man, Onyeka Okongwu out of the University of Southern California. The 6-foot-9 center, born in California, is seen by some as “as the best big man to come out of the 2020 draft.”
In terms of the NBA, only 22 teams were allowed to complete the regular season in competition for 16 playoff spots. The season was eventually halted for a few days because to a wildcat strike related to Black Lives Matter protests, and ended with the Los Angeles Lakers beating out the Miami Heat, with MVP LeBron James taking home his fourth championship ring and fourth MVP award.
While the normal NBA season would’ve started a few weeks ago in late October, the 2020-21 NBA season has been postponed to Dec. 22. The delayed season and draft gave teams more time to assess their options for the draft and remake teams for the new season.
Although the 75th season brings on new challenges for players and the NBA as a whole, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans can look forward to a more normal season as teams once again play 72 games at their home arenas with fans, albeit limited numbers, in their stands.
- Nathan Posner
- Deni Avdija
- NBA Commissioner
- Adam Silver
- NBA draft
- tel aviv
- Washington Wizards
- Atlanta Hawks
- Beit Zera
- Sea of Galilee
- FIBA U20 European Championship
- Anthony Edwards
- University of Georgia
- Trae Young
- Vince Carter
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Black lives matter
- Miami Heat
- LeBron James