The entire country was put on notice during the early-season tournaments of who, and just how good Obi Toppin is. He came out of nowhere after redshirting his first year in college. Although he’s an older prospect being born in ’98, he has a unique skill set that will suit him well in today’s NBA.
Draft Projection: Mid-Lottery
Best Case Scenario: More efficient Aaron Gordon/Josh Smith
Obi Toppin is an elite athlete, which allows him to play above the rim and currently leads the NCAA in dunks. He is fundamentally sound and can score on all three-levels efficiently. On the block, he is a tremendous passer out of double teams and always seems to make the right decision. Good, strong hands and immediately sees where the ball needs to go when the double team is coming. Strong frame and usually overpowers opposing defenders in the post. Toppin is a real pick-and-pop threat as he shots 34.5 percent from behind the arc on 2.8 attempts per game.
Defensively, Toppin has potential, he’s 6’9 with long arms and mobile enough to switch onto guards effectively. He is a legit shot blocker and contests everything at the rim. Toppin anticipates really well & gets many blocks as a help-side defender, but his lateral movement in on-ball defense is a question mark. It’s not enough of a liability to be a glaring weakness, but something to monitor. He currently has the 7th best defensive rating in the A-10 and is 3rd in defensive win shares.
At times Toppin can be a bit passive. He puts up his numbers but in key moments will defer to his teammates, instead of making himself a threat to score. Needs to be more creative in the post as a scorer; right now he usually spins going baseline, overpowers, or out jumps opposing players. Going forward, he will need to develop a post-fade away, up and under, or jump hook to be less predictable as a post scorer.
He also needs to continue to mix it up when setting screens. He rolls to the basket more than he pops and teams will game plan against that on the next level. Defensively he can be flatfooted, causing him to get beat off the dribble. He has potential as a point-forward but will need to improve his ball-handling on the wing.
Obi Toppin is a terrific talent and can create a role for himself in the NBA. There aren’t too many stretch fours with elite athletic ability in the league today. If he continues to polish his offensive game he could change the way we look at the stretch four position. He currently ranks 25th in the entire country in efficiency and teams will love equating him into their offense. In our mock draft, we have him going 13th to the Portland Trailblazers. Terry Stotts would love to use Toppin in the P&R and P&P with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Toppin would bring depth and versatility to their frontcourt as they have been decimated with injuries over the past two seasons. He would also allow them to play fast on offense and give them a versatile defender when trying to defend ball screens. In recent memory, the Trailblazers have struggled guarding the P&R, especially in the playoffs. Toppin would immediately help in that area. As for offense, he would bring a different dynamic to their system. Toppin would have opposing defenses guessing, because he can play above the rim or stretch the floor with skill.
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