Biggest Questions About NBA Draft Prospect Obi Toppin
Toppin has lottery teams' attention now after transforming into a 20-point-per-game scorer, National Player of the Year and better shooter to strengthen his projected NBA fit.
But some scouts are still hesitant about how high it's worth drafting Toppin, with their questions mostly related to his defense and how it could affect his value.How should Toppin's questionable defense affect his evaluation and value?
Plenty of teams will be sold on Toppin's scoring translating, given his pro tools (6'9", 220 lbs), explosiveness around the basket (76.7 percent at rim), effective post game (1.02 PPP, 87th percentile), untapped face-up potential (1.33 PPP spot-ups, 98th percentile), developing jump shot (32 3PTM, 39 percent) and efficient production (32.5 player efficiency rating).
But what if he's a defensive liability? How much would it offset what he's able to accomplish offensively?
Toppin showed limited potential in rim protection. Despite his size and athleticism, opponents shot 57.6 percent around the basket when he was defending. His 4.1 block percentage was scarily low since he often played center. The instincts, reaction time and effort don't show up on tape.
He does not appear graceful guarding away from the basket, whether he's isolated, closing out or asked to help. His footwork and general movements are clunky. Shooters shot 40.4 percent over him off the catch. He graded in the 26th percentile defending spot-ups, and he didn't stop pick-and-rolls (opponents converted 17-of-22 times).
Even his 14.5 rebounding percentage raises concerns. How could a big man as bouncy as him grab just 7.5 boards in 31.6 minutes per game?
Teams considering Toppin may have to accept they won't be getting a plus defender or intimidator. And that means needing to think about whether they have the right supporting cast to help mask his weaknesses.How much should teams factor Toppin's defensive fit when considering him?
What if a struggling defensive team deems Toppin the best player available when it's on the clock? Toppin could efficiently give teams 20-plus points a game. A scorer like that may be tougher to find than defensive role players who can fill in around him.
Ideally, the team that drafts Toppin can slot him between a rim protector and defensive wing. Or, it can use him at the 5 behind a strong team defense and shooters, like in Golden State.
Compared to USC's Onyeka Okongwu, the other projected lottery big, Toppin is the more attractive offensive player. Okongwu is stronger, but he isn't as comfortable or threatening outside the paint.It seems like a safe bet to project a productive scorer in Toppin who'll shoot a high percentage from the floor. Offensively, it's not crazy to think he puts up numbers similar to Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins.
But will they be enough to make up for his defensive issues, to what degree can he make them disappear, and is he definitely on track to evolve from a power player to an inside-out stretch big?