The NBA has become an international league with stars from all over the globe, including Europe and Africa.
The league’s MVP has been from outside the US in each of the last four seasons. Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece and Nikola Jokic from Serbia each won the award in back-to-back seasons. The league also features players from various religious backgrounds. However, one group that currently still does not have much representation in the league is the Jewish community.
As of right now, there is currently only one Jewish player in the NBA, according to the “Atlanta Jewish Times.” The player is forward Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards.
Deni Avdija is of Israeli-Serbian descent. He started playing basketball for Bnei Herzeliya, his hometown club in Israel, as a child. In 2013 he then played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel as a youth player. He later joined their senior team in 2017 at the age of 16.
Just two years later, Avdija won the MVP of the Israeli Basketball Premier League and led his team to the Israeli Basketball Premier League championship.
Avdija was eventually drafted 9th overall by the Washington Wizards in 2020 and has been playing for the team ever since. He also competes for Israel’s national basketball team in international competitions.
Prior to the 2020 draft, many had speculated that Avdija could be the Jewish star the league has been waiting for. As a 6-foot-9 point forward he still has the potential to be a high-impact player. Unfortunately, inconsistent shooting has limited him over his first two seasons.
For his career, Avdija has averaged 7.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game on 42.6% shooting from the field and 31.6% shooting from three.
Other prominent Jewish NBA players
Outside of Deni Avdija, there have been a few other Jewish NBA players in the past. Some of the most prominent ones include Amar’e Stoudemire, Omri Casspi, Dolph Schayes, Danny Schayes, and Jordan Farmar. Former NBA commissioner David Stern was also a Jew.