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Deni Avdija vs. Obi Toppin: Who should be drafted first?

We go over two of the top wing/forward prospects at the top of the 2020 NBA Draft and who we think should go before the other on November 18th.

Obi Toppin of the Dayton Flyers reacts after a dunk in the second half of a game against the George Washington Colonials at UD Arena on March 7, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton defeated George Washington 76-51. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2020 NBA Draft is set for November 18th, virtually taking place at the ESPN headquarters. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the No. 1 overall pick after winning the draft lottery a few months back. There’s a decent chance the T-Wolves look at a guard — one of LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards — at the top. There’s also a chance somebody could surprise us and sneak up the board. It’s not an incredibly deep draft and nobody has separated themselves from the pack. This is mostly because of no NCAA Tournament in March and no official NBA Combine. For that reason, there’s some hype surrounding Euro prospect Deni Avdija and Dayton Flyers F Obi Toppin. So who will be taken first between the two? Let’s take a look.

NBA Draft battle: Deni Avdija vs. Obi Toppin

This is more of a debate between two players in the same draft range than two players who play the same position. Though, it is worth noting that the NBA is position-less and both of these forwards are quite versatile. Avdija will get the slight edge because of Luka Doncic. Recency bias will point to the young overseas forward who has a wide skillset and can play multiple positions. Avdija, by the looks of it, isn’t anything close to Doncic. The Israeli prospect, however, has plenty of similarities to Doncic. Avdija is more like Doncic-lite than anything. That will go a long way in him being drafted in the top 5.

Toppin is your prototypical college tweener. He’s better suited as a bigger small forward in the NBA as opposed to an undersized PF or C. Maybe in the right system he can play the 4 or the 5, but he’d surely be more of a liability on defense trying to defend bigger PFs and Cs — especially 7-footers or bulky 4s. Toppin has a ton of athleticism, can stretch the floor and appears to be the type of player who can develop into a leader. He was having a pretty incredible college season for Dayton as a sophomore. The Flyers were going to be a 1-seed in the tourney had it not been canceled. Toppin could have played himself into No. 1 overall consideration had the NCAA Tournament taken place.

I think Avdija has the higher ceiling and the lower floor. The best case is Avdija turns into a solid starter, a two-way forward who can 3-and-D but also has the ability to run the point a little bit. I love Toppin in the right situation, but I’m not sure that will happen in the top 5-8. So really, my feeling is Avdija will go ahead of Toppin in most draft scenarios. If you’re a team at the top of the draft you want to maximize versatility while limiting risk. We’ve seen prospects outside the U.S. bust on many occasions. We’ve also seen plenty of them emerge and become studs in the League. Avdija does enough things well that coaches will be able to mold him more easily. That may not be the case with Toppin (though I still have plenty of hope he’ll develop into a solid rotation piece).

The pick: Avdija