NBA Draft 2020: Breaking Down Latest Rumors on Obi Toppin, Top Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 21, 2020

Dayton's Obi Toppin (1) passes the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against George Mason, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a right to vet all of the potential candidates to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. 

While the common thought is Minnesota will select one of LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, it is reportedly intrigued by another projected high lottery selection. 

According to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, the Wolves "are high" on Dayton forward Obi Toppin. 

Toppin turned himself into a potential top-five pick through a dominant sophomore season in which Dayton went undefeated in the Atlantic 10 and could have secured a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. 

Whether the Wolves can justify taking Toppin at No. 1 is another topic of conversation since they could add Ball or Edwards to the pairing of Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell. 

The argument in favor of Toppin vaulting over the presumed top three prospects involves what he can bring to the Wolves. 

Toppin could provide some much-needed help in the paint with his two-way ability, and he would not take space away from Towns on the inside. 

In that scenario, Toppin would probably function as a combination of a wing and post player, depending on how the offensive sets align Towns on the court. 

Although Toppin may be an intriguing prospect, the Wolves have the opportunity to choose from anyone in the draft, and that makes it tough to choose the Dayton product over LaMelo Ball. 

Ball is viewed as the top point guard in the draft, and the Wolves could develop him alongside Russell to become a better distributor and shooter. 

The more likely scenario for the Wolves if they prefer Toppin over any other prospects is a trade down so they can collect assets and land a player they desire.


Bulls Looking At Trading Up 

If Minnesota decides it is open for a trade, the Chicago Bulls could be an ideal partner. 

NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh believes the Bulls will try to move in the first draft under executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. 

"I think [Karnisovas] might move up, because I think No. 1 with Minnesota and No. 2 (with Golden State) is going to be readily available,” Haberstroh said on a recent podcast. "I would be surprised if you didn’t see Charlotte (at No. 3) or Chicago move up in the draft.”

At the moment, the Bulls are in position to land Toppin or Deni Avdija from the top of the second tier of draft prospects. 

If the process goes as expected, Ball, Edwards and Wiseman will be off the board if the Bulls remain at No. 4. 

Karnisovas could be more comfortable with selecting Avdija because of his extensive international background, or he might land Toppin to provide more explosiveness to the frontcourt. 

If a trade occurs, the Bulls could bolster their backcourt around Zach LaVine and Coby White with the selection of either Ball or Edwards. 

Since they loaded up on frontcourt players in recent drafts, it does not seem likely the Bulls will chase Wiseman if they trade above No. 4 or remain at the pick.


Miami Meets With Jalen Smith

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Miami Heat "requested a Zoom session" with Maryland center Jalen Smith. 

Miami sits in an intriguing first-round position at No. 20, where it could bring in better talent than some other NBA Finals contenders. 

Milwaukee does not select until No. 24, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors pick consecutively at No. 28 and No. 29. 

However, Smith might not be on their radar at No. 20 if his stock continues to rise in the month before the NBA draft. 

Wasserman projected the Maryland player to go at No. 13 in his latest mock draft. He noted "teams are high on Smith's shooting, defense and character." 

The Heat could be interested in an improvement down low to support Bam Adebayo, or they could use the pick to replace a free-agent departure. 

Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder are among the players who could leave south Florida. Point guards Cole Anthony, Tyrell Terry and Kira Lewis Jr. could be available to take Dragic's place, while Jahmi'us Ramsey is an intriguing shooter who might help fill Crowder's absence if he leaves.