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NBA Mock Draft: Deni Avdija assigned to Atlanta Hawks in pre-lottery projection

Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv v CSKA Moscow - Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Photo by Seffi Magriso/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

With fewer than 60 hours until the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery, anticipation is off the charts for teams outside the league’s playoff chase in Orlando. For the Atlanta Hawks, Thursday’s result could have long-lasting ramifications, and Travis Schlenk’s team enters with the fourth-best odds in the field.

In advance of the lottery itself, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony released a new mock draft on Tuesday, with the Hawks landing at No. 4 overall. Though it is crucial to note that Atlanta has only an 11.46 percent chance to remain at No. 4 when all is said and done, this projection sends Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija to the Hawks.

Avdija is a power forward-sized wing with the skill set of a guard, giving him unique positional versatility to tap into on a Hawks team that will be looking to take the next step toward a playoff berth. He played more than 60 games this season, far beyond what teams have seen from most of his fellow prospects. His stellar international résumé indicates he could impact winning almost immediately.

Avdija, a 19-year-old prospect listed at 6’9, is an intriguing player for Atlanta, particularly with regard to his two-way appeal. As noted above, he brings a bit of versatility to the table as a creator, with high-end feel and the ability to distribute. Defensively, Avdija doesn’t project as a star, but he is lengthy and reasonably athletic, using his basketball IQ and toughness to hold up well in most match-ups.

Though most agree that Avdija is a top-10 prospect in this class, there are potential landmines with his projection, and that is similar to the vast majority of players in the 2020 class. Avdija has shown promise with his jump shot in recent days, particularly after the lengthy hiatus prompted by COVID-19, but he has famously struggled as a free throw shooter in the past and his long-term projection as a floor spacer is at least somewhat in doubt.

Beyond that, there is a split on just how much Avdija will be able to create at the next level. Some view him as a “point forward” type with the ability to effectively run an offense and, as such, potentially develop into a star-caliber player. Others are more skeptical, seeing more of a secondary creator that can do a lot of things well, but none of them at the elite level required to take on significant usage in the NBA.

Regardless, Avdija would be an interesting prospect for Schlenk and the Hawks to evaluate, particularly if they stay in the range between No. 4 and No. 8 overall. In short, every team in the NBA is looking for competent forward play that can translate on both ends and, even if some observers are skeptical on Avdija’s overall ceiling, he projects as a solidly useful NBA player with the potential for more.

Stay tuned as the draft process continues.