The most talked about and pretty much the consensus number one pick this upcoming NBA draft is undoubtedly James Wiseman. Right behind him are Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.
While Wiseman, Edwards, and Ball have gotten all the hype in the past few months, there’s a lesser known top prospect that I want to shine a light on. A player that I think is better than all of these guys.
Obi Toppin, a sophomore from Dayton, is a 6’9”, 220 lb. forward who looks like he can play the four or five position in small ball lineups, as well as even play small forward at certain times.
He has a solid frame, and good strength to hold his own in the league. Throughout his entire collegiate career, he’s also shown his quickness and incredible leaping ability.
A lot of his highlights will show Toppin either getting out on the fast break and finishing with power at the rim, or catching lobs. At face value, this is already an extremely valuable skill set for power forwards.
There’s still a lot of value in rim running, athletic bigs, and that’s where Toppin excels, but he’s still so much more than that.
At 22 years old, Toppin has already developed a sophisticated sense of the game. His playmaking ability goes unnoticed, but defenses naturally gravitated towards him so he was forced to learn how to make smart passes.
He’s also a fairly good ball handler for a guy his size, being able to get past defenders by dribbling around them. He also did a lot of work down low, which brings me to my next point.
His finishing ability at the rim is elite. Not only is he the most explosive player in the draft, but he also finishes with finesse. All of his highlight dunks overshadows the fact that he also has a soft touch at the rim.
Obi catches lobs and dunks over his opponents off the dribble all the time, but he also has a good layup package that allows him to finish through smaller defenders, and over taller ones.
His post up game is also really solid, even taking into account that he was playing against smaller and weaker players than what you’d see in the NBA.
The biggest area where he has the most potential, though, is his shooting. He isn’t a high volume shooter, hitting about one three a game this past year, but he hit nearly 40% of all the threes he took.
In fact, his efficiency overall is outstanding. His true shooting percentage hit almost 70% both years he was at Dayton, which ranks 9th among all Division I players.
His raw stats are pretty good for a forward, averaging 20 points and 7 and a half rebounds a game. With his vertical, he makes it look easy grabbing boards and throwing in putback dunks.
The biggest question to his game, however, is his defense, and this wouldn’t be a fair analysis without highlighting some of his weaknesses.
He can block shots pretty well, but that’s solely because he can jump high and swat shots. The real question is how he’ll do in an NBA team defensive scheme.
His lateral quickness isn’t the best, so he’ll probably get broken down by guards at the beginning of the year. The forwards in the league are also quicker than that of the NCAA, so he’s going to have to adapt to that as well.
My NBA comparison for Obi currently is Brandon Clarke. They’re both run and gun big men who have great finishing and playmaking ability. But, if Toppin can keep improving, he could end up looking like the Clippers version of Blake Griffin.
The two teams I think he’ll fit best with are the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards. If he does get drafted by Motor City, he’ll have the fitting mentor in Griffin and he’ll work perfectly alongside Derrick Rose in the pick and roll. The best fit for Toppin, however, is the Washington Wizards.
If the Wizards do trade up, he’ll have two good pick and roll guard partners in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Toppin will also get to contribute right away, sliding in at either the three or four position depending on where they put Rui Hachimura.
He has the skill set to contribute to a winning team right away, and although the Wizards have been in the bottom part of the standings for the past couple years, the addition of Toppin and the return of Wall would put D.C. back on the playoff map.
They could run a starting lineup of Wall, Beal, Hachimura, Toppin, and Bryant.
Whatever happens to Obi Toppin this upcoming season, keep your eyes on him, because I truly think he’ll become something special.
Photo Credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images