Deni Avdija became the NBA’s first lottery winner from Israel on November 18, but not before surprisingly falling into the eighth pick, where the Knicks have been waiting.
Avdija was designed to go fourth at the Bulls or fifth at the Cavaliers, so his mistake was surprising. The Knicks, who interviewed the Israeli but didn’t solve him, passed and picked Obi Toppin, the Brooklyn forward via Dayton.
The wizards have captured Avdija with the ninth choice. Now, Toppin and Avdija will battle it out for the first time on Friday at Washington’s Capital One Arena.
A significant amount of Israelis live in New York City. In fact, the city’s Jewish population is more than the combined Jewish populations of Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco combined.
Since the Knicks were on the clock, Avdija was not thinking that way. He wanted to go to a franchise that he wanted him to.
“I just wanted to be drafted,” Avdija said in a Zoom call Thursday. “I wasn’t thinking about the city, how many people in the city and how many Jews there are in New York. I was just hoping to go to a team that believes in me and wants me there. Here’s what happened. I’m with the Wizards and I’m as happy as possible. ”