Why Cavs Have Extensive Knowledge on Deni Avdija Because of J.B. Bickerstaff

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The Cleveland Cavaliers won’t make their top pick in the 2020 draft until October, but one of the names who’s definitely on their radar is international prospect Deni Avdija.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com was asked by a fan about which prospects the Cavaliers are taking a serious look at, with Fedor explaining why the 6-foot-9 Avdija is a strong candidate to be selected.

“As for Avdija, the fit is obvious,” Fedor wrote. “The Cavs need a wing and those close to Avdija rave about his competitiveness, basketball IQ, feel and work ethic. General manager Koby Altman, assistant GM and director of scouting Brandon Weems all made trips overseas to see Avdija in person. The Cavs also know as much, or more, about Avdija as any other team because of head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.”

The reason for Bickerstaff’s seemingly in-depth knowledge of Avdija comes through connections from his time as both an assistant and head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.

“While in Memphis, Bickerstaff coached Omri Casspi, who is playing alongside Avdija at Maccabi Tel Aviv,” Fedor wrote. “Tyler Dorsey, also part of that roster, was in Memphis with Bickerstaff before heading overseas in 2019. Tarik Black, who was teammates with Avdija last season, spent time with Bickerstaff in Houston. What better way to gather intel than by talking to former NBA players who have seen Avdija work in practice, shared a locker room with him and played on the same team?”

Avdija is a player who doesn’t turn 20 years old until January and considering that the Cavaliers are continuing to rebuild their team, he won’t be under immediate pressure to turn the team around.

The revamped NBA calendar has resulted in the NBA lottery taking place in August, with the draft then taking place on Oct. 16.

Whether the Cavaliers end up choosing Avdija or go in a different direction remains uncertain right now, but it’s clear that the Israeli player has piqued the interest of the Cavs’ front office.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.