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Potential 2020 NBA Draft targets for the Spurs: Obi Toppin

The Spurs need to get better on the wing, and the 2020 draft could be the place to do it.

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Dayton Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As college football season is in high gear, we’re continuing our look at potential wing players the Spurs could eye in the the NBA draft this summer. So far we’ve looked at Michigan State’s Aaron Henry and Arizona’s Josh Green. Today:

Obi Toppin: Forward, Dayton

(Reminder: All stats are as of Monday, Jan 13)


Height: 6’9”

Weight: 220

Wingspan: N/A

Birthdate: 03/04/1998

2019-20 Stats (per game)

Minutes: 29.7

Points: 19.3

Rebounds: 7.4

Assists: 2.3

Turnovers: 2.0

Steals: 1.3

Blocks: 1.3

Shooting splits (FG/3PT/FT): 63/33/70

Toppin is definitely not the ideal fit for a 3 and D, but there is a reason why I have his name on the list. The Spurs still prefer to start 2 bigs, as evidenced by Pop’s insistence to keep Trey Lyles and his “rebounding” in the lineup. But what if you could get someone with Lyles’ size and rebounding prowess, this time with a more versatile offensive repertoire? That’s essentially what you get with the Dayton forward, who has solidified himself as a first round pick and a first team All-American.

I spent way too long trying to explain Toppin’s offense in a sophisticated way, but I ended up coming back to the same idea: he is uber productive and just a super fun player. Offensively, there really is not much that Toppin cannot do, and his role should translate easily to the NBA.

Toppin might provide the best blend of fluidity, strength, and explosiveness at his size and position, which allows him to shoot 71% on two point field goals this season. Toppin can finish in a variety of ways, whether it be in transition, off alley oops, or as a pick and roll finisher.

n addition to finishing at the rim, Toppin does a great job reacting to a defense. He’s really developed his game off the dribble, whether it be attacking the basket or working his way into a 3. Dayton even runs some off ball screens for him. After taking just over 0.5 a three per game last season, that number has risen to just over 2.5 in 2019-20. He’s not just taking open catch and shoot 3’s, but extremely advanced (and ballsy) shots such as this one against Kansas.

Toppin’s passing is a pretty underrated aspect of his game. He knows how to find his open teammates, whether it be out of post ups or helping set the offense from the high post and beyond.

Defensively, Toppin has the requisite size, strength, and athleticism to be a positive NBA defender. However, he looks to currently fit the mold of a 4/5 tweener, where he isn’t quick enough to keep up with perimeter players as well as lacking the length/pure strength to bang with the bigger centers in the league. You see an example of his weakness moving with a quicker guard here, where he disintegrates in the pick and roll and allows an easy finish.

If Toppin is able to increase his lateral mobility and slide with quicker perimeter players, he could turn into a positive switchable defender. We are seeing a host of small ball 5’s thrive in the NBA nowadays, and even if he cannot extend his defensive range out to the perimeter, Toppin should be able to hold his own as an interior presence due to his energy.

As arguably the best offensive big in his class, Toppin is definitely one of the draft’s safer picks. Most teams know he will be able to fit and thrive within their offense. The only question is whether he can do the same defensively.