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Deni Avdija vs. Killian Hayes: Who should be drafted first?

We take a look at the top two international prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft and which one should be selected first on November 18th.

Deni Avdija of Maccabi gestures during the UEFA Europa League football match played between Getafe CF and Ajax at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on February 20, 2020 in Getafe, Spain. Photo by Ivan Terron/AFP7/Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

The 2020 NBA Draft is set for November 18th and two centers have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. There are several interesting international prospects in this draft class who could be lottery picks. Israel’s Deni Avdija and France’s Killian Hayes are considered to be the best from the crop of overseas talent looking to enter the league and could have their value elevated by the success of Luka Doncic. Both 19-year olds could be impact players this upcoming season and team need will likely dictate who comes off the board first.

NBA Draft battle: Deni Avdija vs. Killian Hayes

Avdija higher than Hayes on most mock drafts. The 6’9” swingman has a well-rounded game that can fit into a variety of systems. He has a respectable outside shot, can defend multiple positions, excels as a cutter, and can act as a secondary playmaker when needed. Avdija has all the tools to be an above average NBA player and has already played a significant role on a quality pro team.

Avdija averaged 13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game with a Maccabi Tel Aviv that usually doesn’t give young players like him much burn and ended up being named the youngest MVP in league history. He led his squad in minutes per game (27.1) while playing with ex-NBA pros like Quincy Acy, Omri Casspi, Amare Stoudemire. Being so accomplished at such a young age has led to Doncic comparisons but his ceiling is considerably lower.

Hayes thought of as the second-best point guard prospect in the draft class behind LaMelo Ball. He’s not as flashy as Ball but is easily one of the most talented passers available. While Hayes wasn’t ratiopharm Ulm’s top option in Germany last season he was a frequent pick-and-roll ball handler who led the team in assists per game. He’s a ball dominant guard who attackes when he has to. The crafty lefty rattled home 42 percent of the threes he took off the dribble last season. Replicating that efficient in the NBA is unlikely but his scoring could take a leap with NBA spacing. His playing style is suited for the league and it’s hard to pass up on a player with his physical tools.

Hayes isn’t the most explosive athlete but his 6’5” frame helps him fit the big guard mold that’s becoming so popular around the league. International point guard prospects are a lot riskier than wings though and the league is full of stars and up-and-comers at the position. Few players are ready to be handed the keys to an NBA offense as teenagers, but that’s essentially what Hayes could have to do if he comes off the board early enough. A ball-dominant player like Hayes will have to be extremely efficient to stay on the court.

Neither of these players flashes superstar potential but Avdija can help fill multiple holes for a lottery team with glaring weaknesses.I think his versatility will lead to him coming off the board first. Other guards like Tyrese Haliburton, Tyrese Maxey, Cole Anthony, and RJ Hampton could gain ground on Hayes ahead of the draft.