The Chicago Bulls have been tight-lipped regarding their plans on draft day. After lucking into the fourth overall pick, fans have been excited to see what Artūras Karnišovas decides to do on draft day. One of the hot names linked to the Bulls is Deni Avdija from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The 19-year-old forward from Israel is coming into the NBA riding the buzz of Luka Dončić, the former Real Madrid star and Euroleague MVP. Teams and fans get excited about the prospect of a European do-it-all type of forward, and Avdija fits that bill in the eyes of many. I’ve even written as him as a Bulls draft target back in January. However, as the draft nears closer, it is becoming clearer that the Chicago Bulls should not draft Deni Avdija. Here are three reasons why.
Last season, Deni Avdija shot 33.3% from a closer three-point line in Europe and 58.8% from the free-throw line. You can say all you want about a young player figuring it out as he goes when it comes to three-point shooting. However, clocking in at under 60% at the charity stripe as a ‘shooter’ is concerning. Often, a prospect having difficulty shooting the three can be projected to improve based on good shooting form at the line. Avdija’s showing as a free throw shooter is arguably worse than his shooting from deep.
The Bulls need players to space the floor outside of Zach LaVine and Coby White. If Avdija is going to play wing, he would need to demand some attention to also open up driving lanes for other players. Right now, he doesn’t seem to be a player who can do that.
Basketball is turning more and more into a position-less sport. However, there are still guards, wings, and bigs. Avdija’s 6-foot-9 height and wingspan would indicate he should play wing. Does he possess the lateral quickness to keep up with wings defensively or be an effective playmaker on the floor? His explosiveness isn’t quite there.
If Avdija shows flashes of being a good playmaker and the Bulls hope he becomes a good shooter, he is going to need more to his game if those areas don’t develop as intended. He seems to have a high defensive IQ, but that can only take you so far in the NBA. He needs to present more offensively to make up for the defensive liabilities.
Position on the Floor
Continuing on the previous point, Avdija might be hard to have on the floor with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. still in the mix. The Bulls would really benefit from a three-and-D wing to pair with that frontcourt and LaVine and White, neither of whom are great defensively. So do the Bulls spend the fourth overall pick on a sixth man who can take over for Markkanen in the future? Maybe. But then go back to point two. Avdija would be a defensive liability at the four spot.
Overall, Deni Avdija is an intriguing prospect. He has the potential to become something special, but he comes with very legitimate concerns. If LaMelo Ball is available, I would be in favor of the Bulls drafting him. Otherwise, trading back is another option if another team shows enough interest in whichever player drops out of the top three. We’ll see what happens soon, as the NBA Draft is set for November 18th.