Israelis Yam Madar and Deni Avdija Drafted By NBA Teams
Deni Avdija goes to the Wizards and Yam Madar to the Celtics.
Israelis Yam Madar and Deni Avdija have both been drafted by NBA teams. Deni Avdija will play for the Washington Wizards after they selected him ninth overall, the highest pick ever for an Israeli player in the NBA draft. Yam Madar was picked 47th overall by the Boston Celtics.
So in addition to high tech products Startup Nation can now add basketball players to its list of exports. And boy do Israelis love basketball. The country’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, its perennial champion, represents Israel in Europe’s Professional basketball champions league. Maccabi Tel Aviv has been one of the most dominant of the region’s basketball teams for decades.
It is safe to say that basketball is much more popular in Israel than in Europe, or at least West Europe. The British, French, Germans and others are noticeably absent from Europe’s pro basketball annual competition. It is also true that basketball is as popular in Israel as soccer.
The COMPLETED 2020 #NBADraft Board!
— NBA (@NBA) November 19, 2020
And now there are three Israeli born NBA players: Deni Avdija, Yam Madar and T.J. Leaf who plays for the Indiana Pacers. Leaf was selected 18th overall in the NBA draft two years ago.
The three Israeli NBA players must wait to see how the Corona Virus will affect the 2020-2021 NBA season, however. There will almost certainly be one. However, it may need to be shortened and see teams playing in “bubbles” with games all played in the same locations as was recently done for the NBA playoffs.
Deni Avdija, 19, is from Bet Zera, a kibbutz in northern Israel. He has played for Maccabi Tel Aviv for the past three years,
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) November 19, 2020
The NBA itself says that Avdija is thought to be the greatest basketball talent that Israel has ever had. In the 2017 Under 16 European Championships Avdija led in rebounds and assists. He was the youngest player to ever play for Maccabi Tel Aviv
In 2018 and 2019 Avdija won back-to-back gold medals at the Under 20 European Championships. He also won the MVP at the Basketball Without Borders European Camp in 2018 and at the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Charlotte in 2019.
“We were absolutely thrilled to get the opportunity to select Deni at the ninth pick and add his versatility, toughness and effort on the defensive end to our roster,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said. “While he is a young player who is still developing, he has great experience playing at a high level both professionally and in international competition.”
“I love Deni’s competitive spirit and feel for the game and I’m excited to help him continue to improve when we begin camp in a few weeks,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “His toughness and overall skill set will allow us to use him in multiple lineups and allow him to seamlessly blend in with our team.”
As for Yam Madar, NBA.com describes the 19 year old Israeli from Bet Dagan as “a quick and shifty Israeli point guard who amazes with his great passing and handle.”
Madar started his pro basketball career in 2018, signing a four-year deal with Hapoel Tel Aviv.