With the season over, teams turn their attention to the upcoming NBA draft and free agency period. With that in mind, here are perfect fits for three NBA prospects.
Deni Avdija, SF, Israel to the Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are quickly becoming one of the most promising teams. Built around guard Zach Lavine are up and comers like former UNC standout Coby White, Wendall Carter and Lauri Markkenan.
Only two players on the Bulls’ roster have more than five years of NBA experience (Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter). Adding Avdija to that young core could make the Bulls a playoff competitor in the coming years.
Scouts consider Avdija as the best international prospect this year, and with good reason. Avdija comes from an athletic background, as his father, Zufer Avdija, played for Yugoslavia in the 1982 FIBA World Championship. Zufer played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and averaged 9.8 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
While not exactly the most eye-popping stats, it is important to understand the context of Avdija’s situation.
Avdija is a young player on a professional team, and his usage numbers were low. Unlike college, he is going up against grown men in every game. His coach is not obligated to play him just because he is an NBA prospect.
Despite the stats, Avdija made the most of his opportunity. He worked hard and demonstrated his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates. He excelled when cutting to the basket and was solid handling the ball in the pick-and-roll.
When cutting, Avdija was in the 93rd percentile with 1.553 points per possession, according to NBA Stats. When in the pick and roll, he ranked in the 92nd percentile with 1.054 points per possession.
Avdija plays tough on defense, using his 6’10 wingspan to disrupt wing players. He only allowed 0.58 points per one-on-one defensive possession. He also won’t be moved easily in the post at 225 pounds.
Avdija shot just 33% from 3 last year with Maccabi. This affects a few aspects of his game. Just as a spot-up shooter, it is concerning because his form and mechanics look sound. To be an elite prospect, it is imperative to hit the open looks when presented with them.
Avdija has been able to hit shots from specific zones. However, he needs to be more consistent from every spot around the perimeter. It also affects him as a potential pick and roll ball-handler at the next level. If he is not a threat from three, defenders will go under screens. The Bulls can help to utilize Avdija in ways that play to his strengths. He can run the floor in transition, cut into the lanes and finish at the rim.
Avdija could be the final piece to one of the better defensive teams in the NBA in a few years. A lineup of White, Lavine, Avdija, Markennan and Carter Jr. has very few vulnerabilities.
Avdija is projected to be a top five pick, which should mean Chicago has a real possibility of landing him.
Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova, to the Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks endured an unfortunate end to their season once again.
After finishing 7th in the Western Conference, the Mavericks looked poised to make a run at the 2nd seed Clippers. Then star big man Kristaps Porzingis went down with a torn meniscus, ending the Mavericks upset aspirations.
The Mavericks have struggled in the playoffs in recent years. The team has made it out of the first round in the last ten years. That was when they won the championship back in the 2010-11 season. However, the team has assembled an excellent duo in Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic and Porzingis.
At this point, adding competent, scheme-fitting role players around their two European stars is the best course of action. Bey fits that description and can help push this team past the first round for years to come.
Bey is a sophomore out of Jay Wright’s famous Villanova program. A product of Largo, Maryland, Bey made a big jump in his sophomore year. He nearly doubled his points per game average from his freshman year.
Even more impressive is his jump in shooting numbers. He increased his free throw percentage by 12 percent and his three-point by 8 percent. Bey increased his three-point percentage while also increasing his attempts per game. He took a bigger role in the offense in his second year. His usage and points produced both increased from his first year.
Bey brings a lot of versatility on both sides of the floor. Defensively, he stands at 6’8 and 216 pounds with a 6’11 wingspan. He has the lateral quickness to switch onto most guards with the frame capable of handling forwards. The combo forward does a good job of sliding his feet when defending dribble penetration. His rim contests are textbook and usually force a miss or an above-average finish out of opponents.
Offensively, Bey can play multiple roles. He demonstrated the ability to be a secondary ball-handler out of the pick and roll. Bey is efficient driving to the basket after using the ball screen. However, he likes to pull up either beyond the arc or for the long two-pointer in the Demar Derozan range.
Bey is also a phenomenal off-ball shooter. He ranked in the 98th percentile in spot-up opportunities with an absurd 1.314 points per possession. He has had some truly outstanding shooting performances. Bey shot 8 of 10 from the arc in a game against Georgetown.
The Villanova prospect could be what the Mavericks need to propel the team to new heights. Currently, the team’s options at the small and power forward positions are Porzingis, Justin Jackson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
With Porzingis a lock to start at power forward, Bey can contribute immediately at the small forward spot. His defense and shooting would be an upgrade over Finney-Smith. He would also open up the floor for Doncic to better attack the hoop.
While he struggles to finish above the rim on his drives, Bey would rarely be called upon to do that. He would not have to be the primary ball-handler in any lineup. Bey would continue to play to his strengths, as much of his value would be off the ball.
Defensively, a lineup of Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Bey, Porzingis and Dwight Powell can cause problems for the opposition.
Bey is ranked as the 3rd small forward on ESPN’s Draft Big Board. He is projected to go in the 15 to 25 range. With the Mavericks first-rounder at pick number 18 overall, the Mavs should have an opportunity to pick up Bey.
Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington to the Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers suffered an unfortunate blow when Ben Simmons went down with a season-ending knee injury. Things took a turn for the worse as the Celtics jumped out to an early lead in the first round.
The Sixers have all the talent in the world, but they have not been able to put it together. McDaniels can add even more depth and talent to an already competent Sixers team.
McDaniels is a one and done freshman out of the University of Washington. He has an abundance of physical tools and potential that make his selection for a team like the Sixers intriguing.
At 6’10, he moves well and can handle the ball to some extent. He can create out of the pick and roll and has a solid pull-up jumper. His three-point shot is still developing, as demonstrated by the 33.9% from 3, but has the right mechanics. His release is a little slow and needs adequate space to release, but defenders will still respect his shot.
As a defender, McDaniels has all the tools to be a competent team and on-ball defender. While not thickly built, he holds his own in the post and has good enough feet to play guards outside.
A small but recurring issue is his defensive awareness, which is in part due to inexperience. McDaniels tends to over-rotate to help one pass away. If the offensive team makes a skip pass, McDaniels is usually late to a contest.
McDaniels made up for that in college with his athleticism and length. However, a slight miscalculation like that will allow teams to target him when looking for an open man.
The Sixers aren’t necessarily in dire need of a wing player. Though McDaniels can still be a valuable piece and contribute during the Sixers championship window.
McDaniels won’t have to be the primary ball-handler or the focal point on offense. This will allow himto focus on using his strengths to make the team better. McDaniels can help space the floor for the notoriously limited shooter Ben Simmons. He can also be a solid defensive player in the second unit.
McDaniels’s stock fell from the beginning of the season. He is now projected to get drafted in the late first round.
The Sixers are picking at 21st overall. They could be in a position to get a potentially great player for the appropriate value.