Deni Avdija was drafted by the NBA’s Washington Wizards on Wednesday and former pro player Tamir Goodman, known as the “Jewish Jordan,” predicts the 19-year-old Israeli will take the league by storm.
By Ebin Sandler, United with Israel
On Wednesday, Deni Avdija became the highest-drafted Israeli NBA player of all time, selected number nine overall by the Washington Wizards.
Avdija has been breaking records his whole life, becoming the youngest player ever to suit up for Maccabi Tel Aviv at the tender age of 16.
Now, the 6-foot-9, 225-pound power forward is ready to showcase his skills in the NBA.
“Deni grew up in incredible basketball systems here in Israel that at a very young age taught him to play at the professional level and his basketball ball IQ is very advanced because of that,” commented Tamir Goodman, a baller who is no stranger to making history.
Goodman, whom Sports Illustrated dubbed “The Jewish Michael Jordan” at the age of 17 in 1999, played Division I NCAA basketball at Towson University while wearing a traditional Jewish head covering (kipa) and remaining Sabbath-observant. To this day, Goodman is revered as much for his dedication to orthodox Judaism as his formidable skills on the court.
“Even when Deni was 16 and 17 years old, he was already preparing for games like a pro and reading defenses like a pro,” Goodman recently told USA Today.
“He approaches things at a very high level, at a very professional and a very intense level,” added Goodman, who made aliyah, served in the IDF, and played professionally in the Israeli league. Goodman still serves as a coach, in addition to doing sports consulting, training players, and leading a company that sells a basketball training device he invented called the Zone190.
Goodman’s predictions about Avdija seemed to be shared by the Wizards, a team that Michael Jordan himself played for between 2001 and 2003.
While Avdija is only nineteen, he has already tasted greatness, winning the FIBA Under-20 European Championships in 2018 and 2019 with the Israeli national team.
“For me just to represent my country and to make history, that’s a blessing,” Tel Aviv-based Avdija told reporters Wednesday via video conference. “I have the whole nation behind me. I hope I’m going to represent well.”
Among the Israelis Avdija beat out to become the highest drafted player from the Jewish state is Omri Casspi, who was drafted 23rd overall in 2009. Casspi had a 10 year run in the NBA and recently returned to Israel, where he has served as a mentor to Avdija.
Goodman certainly believes Avdija has what it takes.
“We saw what Deni did in the FIBA under 20 championship,” he commented. “He’s risen to every occasion. He never backs down form big moments.”
“I think he has a great combination of skill, basketball IQ, and work ethic. He’s just very personable and people like to be around him. It has given him an incredible opportunity to have a very bright future,” Goodman concluded.
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