Deni Avdija says he made it his mission to slow down Lauri Markkanen during electrifying Eurobasket battle

Peter Dewey
2 Min Read
David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards youngster Deni Avdija had an emotional response after playing his first Eurobasket game with Israel.

Avdija and Israel took on Finland, a team that features Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen was recently traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Donovan Mitchell deal.

Avdija took it upon himself to slow down Markkanen, showing his dedication to his country and team in the process.

Markkanen still had a good game, scoring 33 points for Finland, but it was Avdija who got the last laugh, as Israel went on to win the game in overtime.

Avdija put the team on his back, scoring 23 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing out three assists in the win.

The Wizards forward was emotional about trying to bring a win home for his country.

The No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Avdija has shown he is a solid defender at the NBA level, posting a positive defensive box plus/minus in each of his first two NBA seasons. His play at this year’s Eurobasket should be encouraging for the Wizards ahead of the 2022-23 season.

One of Avdija’s Wizards teammates, Kristaps Porzingis, shouted him out on Twitter for his impressive performance.

Porzingis wasn’t the only NBA player who noticed Avdija’s effort, as former NBA forward Omri Casspi also shouted out the Israeli star.

Through his first two seasons in Washington, Avdija has averaged 7.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. At just 21 years old, he’s showing he can still grow as a player at the NBA level with his play at this year’s Eurobasket.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.