NBA: Yam Madar selected by the Boston Celtics, second Israeli in 2020

Israeli playmaker Yam Madar, 19, was selected Wednesday night by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the NBA Draft, delivering an unprecedented performance for Israeli basketball after Deni Avdija became the very first Israeli selected in the top 10.

This is the second time that two Israelis have been selected from the same group, after Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin, who were selected in 2006, in 44th and 56th places respectively. Neither ended up playing in the American Championship.

After Deni Avdija was picked in 9th place by the Washington Wizards, Yam Madar became the 47th overall pick, better than expected after screenings placed him in 55th and 60th places.

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“When you start playing basketball, you dream of such moments,” said the 19-year-old. “Reaching a place like Boston is indescribable. I want to say thank you to my family and everyone who helped me reach this moment ”.

However, having made two draft picks before him – taking on Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard – the Celtics have made it clear Madar will not play in the NBA yet.

“The plan will likely be to keep him overseas for at least another year and monitor him there,” said club president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

The young playmaker, from Beit Dagan, a city in central Israel, currently plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv, where he is on contract for two more seasons. He doesn’t have an NBA release clause, and Hapoel is expected to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars for him if the Celtics want him during that time.

Madar played for Maccabi Beit Dagan, a small team, until he signed for Hapoel Tel Aviv at the age of 15. He has since grown into a top player and last year was part of the Israeli Under-20 team that won the European Championship alongside Avdija.

This summer, the six-footer took a trip to Las Vegas to show off his skills to NBA pros.

The Celtics are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers in NBA title count, with 17 championships won.

Unlike Madar, Avdija has a guaranteed contract with the NBA and will be the third Israeli to play in the American League, following in the footsteps of Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel.

With Avdija, the Wizards will have a versatile forward, with a game still in development, that could help the team turn things around after missing the playoffs the past two seasons.

Avdija, who helped Israel win the European Under-20s in 2018 and 2019, is a good dribbler and passer, but his marksmanship is still questionable.

He became the youngest player to join Maccabi Tel Aviv when he started his professional career in 2017.

President Reuven Rivlin congratulated Avdija and Madar on Twitter, referring to “a night of Israeli pride”.

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