The 2020 NBA Draft is just under a week away, although it seems like just yesterday the Lakers were walking away from Orlando with another title. There has been a ton of discussion surrounding this year’s draft class. Not only was the draft delayed for months, but none of the declared players were able to compete in March Madness this year. So although there is some mystery to this year’s class, the framework and draft positioning is starting to find its mold. But one player is routinely left off of the first four, five, and in some cases even six picks of mock drafts. We know about Anthony Edwards. We know about James Wiseman. But Obi Toppin will be the draft day steal that many of those lottery teams will regret passing on.
Obi Toppin Will Be the Draft Day Steal
Mock Draft Mistakes
The consensus among all mock drafters is that Toppin will fall somewhere in the 5-8 range in this year’s draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been the most connected to the Dayton forward, presumably to replace Kevin Love sooner rather than later.
If this consensus mock lines up correctly, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball, and Deni Avdija will all be taken before him. It may be a bit of a hot take, but I would go as far to say Toppin will be a better NBA fit than both Avdjia and Ball. I think there is a solidified #1/#2 in Edwards and Wiseman at least in terms of talent, but I firmly believe Toppin follows closely behind those two. If he does slip out of the top five, many teams will be regretting their decision to pass. Obi Toppin will be the draft day steal, especially if he’s taken out of the top five.
Best Offensive Player in the Class
Toppin sits at 6’9″ and really is built for the four position on the court. However, he truly does have the gift of versatility engraved in his game. Just a glance at Toppin’s 2019-20 college season shows how well he can play both sides of the ball. His jump from his freshman year is what really catches many eyes. He was able to crack 20 points per game last year and his rebound total had a significant increase as well, one of the bigger reasons his draft stock has risen so much over the past eight months. Not to mention, Toppin finished as the consensus 2020-21 AP Player of the Year.
He’s one of the better stretch forwards we have seen in an NBA draft class for quite a while. His ability to stretch the floor is no fluke. Toppin excels at driving and shooting behind the arc, something you really don’t see with 6’9″ forwards. He shot 39% from three this past season and is widely regarded as the best dunker in this draft class. That isn’t a skill set that many draftees have.
If we really wanna get down to it, Obi Toppin is the best offensive player in this class. Period. Obviously team needs and potential have a lot of influence in drafting. But, Toppin’s offense is undeniable. His offensive line really has you questioning why he never cracks the top three in any mock drafts. Flip to the other side of his game and you still won’t find any glaring weaknesses on the defensive end. Not to say there aren’t any problems, but he certainly isn’t a liability.
“Lack of Defense” Drops the Stock
Toppin has been critiqued for his perimeter defense at times and as an undersized big, it’s something he certainly needs to possess and excel at. However, Toppin hasn’t been suspect on defense to the point of concern. I think it’s a sense of absence compared to his offensive game. But in Toppin’s case, I’m not sure your defense game could outplay your offense. Give some to take some.
Toppin needs to work on developing that defensive game for the NBA level. Although he did play a lot at the five position for Dayton last year, he won’t stand a chance against the likes of Joel Embiid and Bam Adebayo. He’s got experience at center in terms of positioning, but I’m not sure he could handle some of the giants in the league. At least not yet. If he can further develop that perimeter defense game, it really does polish his only black mark. No one is drafting Toppin as a rim protector. They are drafting him for his versatility around the court.
Keep in mind, however, Toppin finished 8th in blocks per game (1.2) within his division. Plus, two top-ten finishes in both defensive efficiency (90.2) and defensive win shares (2.3). He is far from a defensive liability and his draft stock is being dropped as if he is one.
Obi Toppin is a Transitional Big
As the league has continued to evolve, these back to the basket bigs have slowly become less relevant and valuable. That’s not to say those 7’1″ rim protectors don’t still have value. But, the three-ball has become more common. Bigs continue to push their shot further away from the rim. You’ll need versatility in their games. Toppin is one of the only forwards early on in the draft that can do just that. That’s why Obi Toppin will be the draft day steal. He’s got the highest floor in the class and still has enormous room to grow.
Remember how many teams passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo? Remember how many teams regret it now? Obi Toppin will be having that same effect in a couple of years. Not to say the talent will align, but Toppin will have significantly more NBA impact among the majority of the top ten draftees and he’s being grossly underrated by many.
Come back to this article in a couple of years. If I’m wrong I’m wrong. But, Toppin’s skill set isn’t something you see often at such a young age.
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