Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Draft 2020 Prospect Profile: Deni Avdija

Deni Avdija of Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv. (Photo by Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images)
Deni Avdija of Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv. (Photo by Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Dario Saric
A fair comparison for Deni Avdija might be former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Dario Saric. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Deni Avdija NBA Draft 2020 Prospect Profile: Fit with Timberwolves

Avdija has many positive attributes, but it is hard to tell whether he will fit in as a cornerstone for a franchise or just a solid role player.

While fans might love to compare him to a bigger, power-forward-sized version of Luka Doncic, his skillset more closely resembles that of former Timberwolf Dario Saric.

Like Saric, Avdija is capable of contributing as either a scorer or a passer. Avdija also has the tools to defend multiple positions and contribute on that end through pass deflections and rim protection. These qualities seem to be a perfect fit on paper as a two-way wing next to D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.

However, the Timberwolves traded Saric during the 2019 NBA Draft because they did not consider him a valuable enough piece to warrant paying him a contract extension beyond his rookie deal.

The two primary problems during Saric’s tenure in Minnesota were as a playmaker and his inconsistencies as a shooter. Saric is a gifted passer but often needed both extended minutes in a starting role and heavy usage in order to contribute fully as a playmaker.

His shooting has also been incredibly streaky throughout his career. Saric shot an above-average 38.3 percent from beyond the arc during his time in Minnesota but many fans will remember the highs and lows of that experience. Saric felt like he could be a cornerstone for the franchise when he was making perimeter shots but felt equally unplayable when he was not.

Both of these areas of concern for Dario Saric can be directly applied to Deni Avdija.

Avdija will have to prove he can make outside shots consistently and impact a game without needing the ball in his hands in order to be a fit in Minnesota. Russell and Towns are likely to command the majority of the team’s usage while floor spacers will be expected to fill in the gaps as a traditional 3-and-D type of wing. An exception could be made however if Minnesota believes that Avdija’s playmaking is elite enough to warrant playing D’Angelo Russell off the ball for multiple possessions at a time.

Avdija would have to prove that he has both superb vision and the ability to score in isolation in order for this strategy to work against the NBA’s top talent. This is the exact skill set that would boost Deni Avdija’s profile from an expected role player to a potential franchise cornerstone.

The key factor surrounding the 2020 NBA Draft is identifying which prospect has the highest ceiling. Could Deni Avdija be the next European superstar to explode on the NBA stage or is he destined to be a role player? The answer to that question will likely determine whether or not he is a fit for Minnesota.

The Timberwolves’ desperately need to add high-level talent and cannot afford to spend the number one overall pick on a perennial role player.

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Now it is up to Gersson Rosas and the rest of the front office to decide whether Deni Avdija has the potential to become the third superstar that would quickly move the needle for the Timberwolves’ future.