Obi Toppin

Cavs Rumors: Avdija, Toppin, Thompson, More

Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, who won the Israeli League’s MVP award this year, should be considered one of the leading candidates to be drafted by the Cavaliers at No. 5 overall, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

As Fedor explains, the Cavaliers have done “extensive work” on Avdija, who fits the team’s culture both on and off the court. General manager Koby Altman, director of scouting Brandon Weems, and assistant GM Mike Gansey all made trips overseas to see him play prior to the season shutting down, while head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has reached out to former players Omri Casspi, Tyler Dorsey and Tarik Black for intel on their Maccabi Tel Aviv teammate, writes Fedor.

It’s possible that Avdija will be gone by the time the Cavs are on the clock — sources tell Fedor that the previous Bulls regime “loved” the Israeli forward and probably would’ve taken him at No. 4, though it’s unclear if the new decision-makers in Chicago are as high on him.

The Cavaliers also like Isaac Okoro and Devin Vassell, so if all three wings are still on the board at No. 5, it won’t be an easy decision, according to Fedor, who adds that forward Obi Toppin is “very much in play” at that spot as well.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs:

  • There’s no specific mandate from team owner Dan Gilbert for the Cavs to stay out of the tax going forward, but the team would prefer to do so and that will play a role in roster decisions, according to Fedor. Long-term financial considerations may also dissuade the team from taking on an exorbitant multiyear contract such as Tobias Harris‘ or Al Horford‘s in any trade, Fedor adds.
  • Given the money already on the Cavs’ books for 2020/21, the team is unlikely to re-sign Tristan Thompson and use the full mid-level exception this offseason, according to Fedor in a separate story. Cleveland may have to choose one path or the other, per Fedor, who thinks the team should prioritize Thompson.
  • One source estimated to Fedor that the odds of Thompson returning are 50-50. “I believe there’s a chance of him re-signing in free agency,” another source close to Thompson told Cleveland.com. “He hasn’t necessarily played his final game there.”
  • If Thompson departs and the Cavs do look to use their MLE, Derrick Jones and Pat Connaughton are among the free agents they may target, Fedor writes.

Draft Rumors: Draft Date, Hawks, Suns, Toppin, Wolves

Most people around the NBA think this year’s draft will eventually be moved back from October 16 to sometime in the middle of November, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. We heard last month that there was momentum toward delaying the draft and the start of free agency.

As Bontemps explains, the idea would be to give the NBA and the players’ union some time after the season ends to get a handle on the league’s finances after what has been a very unusual 2019/20 season — and ahead of what figures to be another unusual year in 2020/21. Delaying the draft and free agency would give both sides plenty of time to establish a salary cap for next season and new projections going forward. It would also give teams time to reconsider their plans based on the new cap.

As we wait for official word from the NBA on a possible delay, here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Among the league insiders polled by Bontemps, two teams – the Hawks at No. 6 and the Suns at No. 10 – were mentioned most frequently as candidates to be active in trade talks on (or leading up to) draft day. As Bontemps observes, both teams have cap flexibility and will face some pressure from ownership to make the playoffs in 2020/21.
  • Asked by Bontemps about this year’s most overrated prospects, executives and scouts most frequently pointed to Dayton forward Obi Toppin. “I think he’s a good player and I like him and he had an unbelievable year, but this consensus top-five status he’s obtained is weird to me,” one Eastern Conference scout said of Toppin. Cassius Stanley (Duke), Desmond Bane (TCU), and Jaden McDaniels (Washington) were among the players who received votes as 2020’s most underrated prospect.
  • Most league insiders expect the Timberwolves to draft Anthony Edwards first overall, according to Bontemps. However, in Sam Vecenie’s latest mock draft for The Athletic, he has changed the Wolves’ pick from Edwards to LaMelo Ball, operating under the belief that Gersson Rosas would favor Ball’s potential star power. Both Bontemps and Vecenie note that Minnesota seems like a good bet to gauge the value of the pick on the trade market. Vecenie points out that the Wolves could also draft a player and consider moving him down the road if he doesn’t fit in well with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

Draft Notes: Ball, Edwards, Madar, Hayes

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz examines the unusual path LaMelo Ball has taken to become a potential No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. Ball first gained notice when he skipped eighth grade so he could play a season in high school with his brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo. Since then, he has grown from 5’11” to 6’7″ and has taken a circuitous route through Lithuania, his father’s basketball league (JBA) and Illawarra in the NBL.

Several NBA general managers and executives told Schmitz they consider Ball to have the most star power in the draft and expect him to be selected in the top two or three. However, questions remain about the quality of competition he has faced and whether LaVar Ball will provide a distraction like he did when Lonzo was with the Lakers.

There’s more draft news ahead of tomorrow’s lottery:

  • This year’s draft class is among the most balanced in recent memory, and many teams would privately prefer to pick second or third to avoid the spotlight that comes with the top choice, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. He previews what’s at stake for all 14 teams involved in tomorrow’s drawing and cites the Warriors as the most intriguing. Woo suggests that if Golden State decides to keep its pick, it may prefer someone with more of a fully developed game, such as Obi Toppin or Tyrese Haliburton, rather than a talented project like Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman or Ball.
  • Edwards remains at the top of the latest mock draft from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. He states that Edwards, Ball and Wiseman have become a consensus top three, but a shortage of information resulting from the postponement of the draft combine and a ban on in-person interviews continue to make this year’s draft unpredictable. Rounding out Givony’s top five, in order, are Wiseman, Ball, Israeli forward Deni Avdija, and USC big man Onyeka Okongwu.
  • Israeli point guard Yam Madar confirmed his signing with CAA Sports, tweets international basketball writer Donatas Urbonas. Sources tell Urbonas that the 19-year-old has received “strong interest” from NBA teams after a good performance in the Israeli League playoffs. Madar, who projects as a possible late second-round pick, is training in Las Vegas.
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic posted a video chat with French point guard Killian Hayes, a possible lottery selection.

Central Notes: Cavs’ Draft, T. Thompson, Prince, Bulls

The Cavaliers have Israeli forward Deni Avdija ranked in their second tier of draft prospects, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Fedor states that the team has done “extensive homework” on Avdija, but evaluation is tricky because he had limited playing time in the EuroLeague.

At 6’9″, Avdija offers athleticism, versatility and play-making, but his outside shot is questionable. Forward is Cleveland’s primary position of need, but Fedor indicates the team plans to take the best player available, regardless of position. He identifies Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball as the three players in the team’s first tier.

Fedor also says if the Cavs are interested in Obi Toppin, they should plan to use him as a power forward/center rather than a small forward. According to Fedor, Toppin doesn’t have the offensive skills or the lateral quickness to succeed on the perimeter in the NBA.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • If the Cavaliers‘ season is over, fans may not get the chance to say goodbye to a pair of franchise cornerstones in Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, writes Evan Dammarell of Forbes. With Thompson’s $18.5MM and Dellavedova’s $9.6MM contracts deal both coming off the books, Dammarell doesn’t expect either to return next season, although Dellavedova may be willing to accept a veteran’s minimum deal. Thompson told the organization he would like to be traded to a contender before the deadline, Dammarell states, but Cleveland didn’t like any of the offers it received.
  • Former Pistons star Tayshaun Prince has the experience to succeed as the team’s next general manager, contends Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Prince performs a variety of roles in the Grizzlies’ front office and has become an influential voice since being hired in 2017.
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times looks back at a disappointing season for the Bulls that will be over unless the NBA decides to resume the season for all 30 teams. Cowley hands out a few awards, such as Zach LaVine as player of the year and Coby White as reserve of the year, and says the most significant event was John Paxson’s decision to tell ownership in December that changes were needed in the front office.

Draft Notes: Early Entrants, Haliburton, Hayes, Avdija

The list of early entrants for the 2020 draft continues to grow, with a trio of guards among the latest underclassmen to announce their intent to test the waters this spring.

Wichita State sophomore guard Dexter Dennis, Colgate junior guard Jordan Burns, and UNC Greensboro junior guard Isaiah Miller all made their draft announcements on Twitter.

Dennis averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 28 games (25.8 MPG) for the Shockers in 2019/20; Burns, a former Patriot Tournament MVP, posted 15.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 34 games (32.4 MPG) for the Raiders; and Miller recorded a team-high 17.8 PPG to go along with 2.8 SPG as he earned Player of the Year – and Defensive Player of the Year – honors in the Southern Conference.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Even after the departure of Leon Rose, the head of the agency’s basketball department, Creative Artists Agency is having no problem continuing to fill out its roster with promising young players. CAA announced on Thursday (via Twitter) that projected lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton will be represented by the firm.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic shares his “unconventional” top five for the 2020 draft, valuing efficiency and production over hype and athleticism and focusing on versatile players who have at least one elite skill. Based on those criteria, French wing Killian Hayes top Strauss’ board, followed by Obi Toppin, Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, and Isaac Okoro.
  • With the help of draft expert Fran Fraschilla, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes an in-depth look at Israeli swingman Deni Avdija, who is another candidate to be one of the first five players off the board in the 2020 draft. Fraschilla cautions that Avdija’s shot needs some work, but views him as this year’s top international prospect – above Hayes – and believes he belongs in the upper tier of the draft class.

Draft Notes: White, Collins, Choh, Ball, Toppin

Like Arizona State teammate Remy Martin, junior forward Romello White is declaring for the 2020 NBA draft, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, who tweets that White is keeping his options open. In a tweet of his own, White confirmed that he has sought feedback from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

After putting up modest numbers as a sophomore, White had a bounce-back junior year, averaging 10.2 PPG to go along with a team-best 8.8 RPG, and 1.2 BPG in 30 games (28.5 MPG) for the Sun Devils. He’ll have the option of returning for his senior season if he decides to withdraw from the draft pool later in the process.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and updates:

  • South Florida junior guard David Collins is testing the draft waters, reports Rothstein (Twitter link). Collins was the team’s leading scorer in 2019/20, with 13.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.8 SPG.
  • Forward Tamenang Choh is declaring for the draft following his junior season at Brown University, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). Choh posted 13.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 3.3 APG, but struggled to score efficiently, with a shooting line of .392/.292/.655.
  • LaMelo Ball has overtaken Anthony Edwards on Sam Vecenie’s latest big board at The Athletic. Dayton’s Obi Toppin has also moved up in Vecenie’s newest update, coming in at No. 4, behind only Ball, Edwards, and James Wiseman.
  • Over at SI.com, Jeremy Woo still has Edwards at No. 1 overall in his most recent mock draft, which covers both rounds. Woo isn’t as high as Vecenie on either Ball (No. 5) or Toppin (N0.9).

Dayton’s Obi Toppin Enters 2020 NBA Draft

MARCH 25: Toppin has made it official, announcing in a Twitter video that he’s signing with an agent and forgoing his remaining college eligibility as he enters the 2020 draft.

MARCH 15: Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin plans to declare for the NBA draft, sources tell Adam Zagoria of Forbes Magazine.

Toppin averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game this season while leading the Flyers to a 29-2 record and a third-place ranking in the final AP poll. He was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and is a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden awards.

With the NCAA tournament canceled, players are free to make decisions about their future earlier than normal.

“He will turn pro,” a source told Zagoria. “I know many NBA scouts are high on him.”

Toppin is projected as the ninth pick in the latest mock draft compiled by Jonathan Givony for ESPN. However, one league executive who spoke with Zagoria expects him to be taken in the top five.

“A lot of times you see guys who are really dominant and they kind of lose their spirit to compete and play,” said George Washington coach Jamion Christian. “He has this superstar spirit that’s genuine that I think people are going to really love as they get to know him more. I think the best ones always have that, they have something that’s a little bit different that’s not about themselves. I don’t know if it’s like an inner arrogance, but he’s got that.”

Draft Notes: Logistics, Medicals, Mock Draft, More

Even before the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 NBA draft was viewed as a confusing one, given how many of this year’s top prospects – including LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, and RJ Hampton – had their seasons cut short by injuries or eligibility issues. Before going down with injuries, Ball and Hampton were playing on the other side of the world in Australia’s National Basketball League, limiting scouting opportunities for NBA teams.

Now, given the league’s hiatus and its shrinking list of pre-draft events, decision-makers are expecting to have to do their scouting almost exclusively via film, as Ethan Strauss of The Athletic details. Some executives, such as Warriors GM Bob Myers, are still hoping for the opportunity to meet prospects face-to-face, but are unsure whether that will be possible.

“Are we allowed to talk to them in person? That’s a huge part of hiring anybody, which is what a draft pick is; you’re hiring somebody into your company,” Myers said this week. “We’d like to be able to look at them and talk to them and we’d like to see them up close.”

The draft combine typically provides teams with an opportunity to meet dozens prospects in the span of a few days. However, as Strauss notes, even though this May’s combine hasn’t yet been postponed or canceled, few people expect it to happen. It’s also not clear when exactly the draft, currently scheduled for June 25, will take place if the NBA aims to resume its 2019/20 season in the spring or summer.

Here’s more on an uncertain 2020 draft:

  • Although teams are getting used to the idea of relying on digital scouting and conducting meetings through video apps like FaceTime or Zoom, executives are wondering how prospects will go through medical checks they’d usually undergo at the combine, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. One team staffer conveyed a similar concern to Strauss: “What the league has to do is at least get the medical records. Everything else is optional.”
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes his own look at the scheduling and logistical issues surrounding this year’s draft and digs into how the unusual circumstances may affect the decisions being made by potential early entrants.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has published an updated version of his mock draft, with Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, and Obi Toppin coming off the board first, in that order.

Draft Notes: Maker, Primo, Toppin, Azubuike

Having ruled earlier this week that Makur Maker – the younger cousin of Thon Maker – is eligible to enter the 2020 draft, the NBA and NBPA reached a revised agreement on the draft eligibility of players in similar situations to Maker, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Going forward, 19-year-old prospects who are still enrolled in high school won’t be eligible to enter the draft, clearing up an area of confusion for NBA teams.

As for Maker specifically, even though he’s now free to enter this year’s draft, there’s no guarantee he’ll do so. His guardian Ed Smith told ESPN that Maker will go pro if he’s projected to be a lottery pick. Givony currently has the young center ranked 77th overall on this year’s big board.

  • In an Insider-only ESPN.com article, Givony and Mike Schmitz evaluate which prospects had the biggest impact at last weekend’s Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Chicago. According to ESPN’s draft experts, Canadian guard Josh Primo “stole the show,” looking comfortable playing both on and off the ball. Primo, currently a high school junior, projects to be a first-rounder in 2021, says Givony.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic identifies nine undervalued draft prospects that have piqued his interest, including Dayton forward Obi Toppin, Florida State forward Patrick Williams, and French guard Killian Hayes.
  • Elsewhere at The Athletic, Sam Vecenie makes the case for why Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike is the best center in the NCAA, while Mike Vorkunov takes a look at which prospects the Knicks should be targeting this spring, with some help from Spencer Pearlman of The Stepien.

Draft Decisions: Konate, King, Enoch, Queta, More

We rounded up a series of draft decisions by early entrants this morning, but with the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline (May 29) looming, we’ve already got many more decisions to pass along.

Here’s the latest:

  • West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate plans to remain in the 2019 NBA draft and will forgo his final year of college eligibility, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • Louisville junior forward V.J. King is also keeping his name in the draft, he announced today (via Twitter). However, the Cardinals will get another key player back, as Steven Enoch‘s father told 93.9 The Ville that his son is “looking forward to next season” in Louisville (Twitter link).
  • Utah State center Neemias Queta announced today (via a Twitter video) that he’ll return to school for his sophomore season.
  • Three Xavier prospects who tested the draft waters as early entrants – Paul Scruggs, Tyrique Jones, and Naji Marshall – are headed back to the Musketeers, according to Rothstein (Twitter link).
  • Texas A&M guard Savion Flagg tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link) that he’ll remove his name from the draft and rejoin the Aggies for his junior season.
  • Providence junior guard Alpha Diallo is also expected to withdraw from the draft and go back to school, agent Javon Phillips tells Goodman (Twitter link).
  • Dayton forward Obi Toppin announced in an Instagram post that he’ll pull out of the draft and head back to school for his sophomore year.
  • Keith Braxton, a junior guard out of St. Francis (PA), has elected to withdraw from the draft after testing the waters, tweets Rothstein.