Dayton Flyers sophomore Obi Toppin had arguably the most impressive campaign of any college basketball player during the shortened season.
Before the year began, Toppin was largely projected as a mid-second round pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The forward is now considered the oddsmakers favorite to win Naismith National Player of the Year on betting sites including Bovada and OddShark.
While the remainder of the season has been canceled to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the coronavirus, the Flyers completed the season with 29 wins and just two losses – though they were undefeated in regulation. Dayton finished as the No. 4 overall team in the country, per KenPom.com.
Toppin, 22, played a critical role in that success and likely cemented his place near the top of the upcoming draft thanks to incredible highlight performances.
According to Adam Zagoria, though he will no longer have an opportunity to improve his draft stock in March Madness, that is exactly what the 6-foot-9 forward plans to do (via Forbes):
Dayton’s Obi Toppin, who is among the leading contenders for national player of the year honors in college basketball, is expected to the enter the NBA Draft, sources said. “He will turn pro,” one source said. “I know many NBA scouts are high on him.” The 6-foot-9 Brooklyn native is projected as the No. 9 pick in the NBA Draft, per ESPN.com, but one league executive called him a “top-5” pick.
The truth is that while Toppin ranked No. 12 overall on the most recent big board for Rookie Wire due to his lack of defensive prowess, circumstances surrounding the college basketball season likely complicate this decision from a scouting perspective.
For example, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for the best seniors in college basketball has been canceled. It is also unclear if now other scouting events like the Draft Combine and even individual team workouts will soon suffer a similar fate.
That means as of now, front offices across the league will have to rely only on the sample size that has been given to them thus far in order to make the most informed decision. With that in mind, then, it will be hard to find many players who did more to solidify their draft stock than Toppin.
He averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 three-pointers per game while shooting 39.0 percent from beyond the arc. His field goal percentage within five feet of the basket (82.7 percent) ranked third-best among all players with at least 100 attempts. The sophomore led the nation with 107 dunks, which is the equivalent of 3.5 per game.
Toppin also led all qualified NCAA players in adjusted box plus-minus, per BartTorvik.com. He averaged 1.19 points per possession, per Synergy Sports Tech, which was the most efficient among the 218 D1 players who finished at least 500 possession in 2019-20.
One of the teams that may make the most sense for Toppin is the Golden State Warriors, who will likely have a Top 5 pick in the upcoming draft.
Back in December 2019, Connor Letourneau reported that the front office was not infatuated with any of the other prospects currently projected at the top of the 2020 NBA Draft.
He did, however, mention that Toppin would be someone that the Warriors may like (via SF Chronicle):
“One player who could intrigue Golden State is Dayton forward Obi Toppin, who, like Murray State’s Ja Morant last year, has used a torrid start to his sophomore season to emerge as a potential top-5 pick. At 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, Toppin is a strong, versatile big man who can hit open jumpers, throw down highlight-worthy dunks, defend multiple positions and dive for loose balls.”
Considering that he is already 22 years old, there would be less of a learning curve for Toppin than some of the younger prospects who may be available when Golden State is expected to be on the clock.
Toppin could be more of a win-now fit and play as a potential small-ball five in their lethal offense that will be expected to be potent as ever with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back for a full season in 2020-21.
Speaking of Curry, Obi’s parents Roni Toppin and Obadiah Toppin Sr. were both recent guests on the podcast Raising Fame – hosted by Stephen’s parents Dell Curry and Sonya Curry. Stephen, like Obi, played college basketball in the Atlantic 10 Conference and significantly improved his draft stock in college.
If the Warriors can next add the presumptive NCAA National Player of the Year to their already-impressive core, perhaps Golden State feels less bad about a disappointing 2019-20 campaign. Similarly, while Toppin may miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime experience of March Madness, playing with a generational talent like Curry may help ease the pain.