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Why Toppin, Warriors could be ideal fit in 2020 NBA Draft

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Obi Toppin

* Editor's note: This is the third installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Warriors with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft

In a normal season, the top end of the NBA draft would have two or three players already written in stone. This isn’t a normal season and it’s also not a normal group of draft prospects for the Warriors to choose from.

The field is wide open. Anthony Edwards likely is the top selection, but after that, it's a free-for-all.

There is talk of a modified combine and teams have been chatting with players via Zoom for months. But the entire process is skewed. Players won’t fly in for individual workouts and teams will have to rely on background checks, video footage and the work they did before the coronavirus pandemic shut down travel and the standard draft process to ensure they make the right selection.

In the latest mock draft at NBA Sports Bay Area, we have Anthony Edwards going No. 1 overall and the Warriors taking a gamble on an offensive juggernaut in Dayton’s Obi Toppin at No. 2.

More information will continue to trickle in between now and the new tentative date of Nov. 18. Mock drafts will shift and the Warriors will continue to test the market to determine the value of the No. 2 overall selection.

 

If they keep the pick, they have a huge decision to make. Here are the advantages and pitfalls of selecting Toppin with what could be a franchise-altering pick.

Stats

Stats: 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, 63.3% FG, 39% 3-point

Measureables: 6-foot-9, 220 pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan

The 22-year-old is one of the older prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft even though he’s only a redshirt sophomore and has two more years of NCAA eligibility.

For a team like the Warriors who are expected to jump right back into the postseason picture, his age and maturity might be viewed as more of a positive than a negative.

He has high shoulders and plays taller than his listed 6-foot-9 height. He also has elite leaping ability, especially off of two feet.

In 31 games, he posted double-figure scoring 30 times and crested the 20 point mark in 16 games. He tallied just eight double-doubles, but he had his team at 29-2 and primed for a deep tournament run when the NCAA Tournament was canceled.

Strengths

Toppin has the potential to be an elite offensive weapon at the NBA level. He’s one of the better rim runners in the draft and his ability to get out and run the break translates perfectly to an uptempo offense.

He also has the ability to trail in transition and line up a 3-point shot from the top of the key. He shot 39 percent from deep as a sophomore and has the ability to hit from all over the court. Most of his success from long range came in catch-and-shoot opportunities. He isn’t a player that looks to create off the dribble on the perimeter.

Toppin is special in the two-man game. Guards just need to get the ball in the vicinity of the rim and he will finish with authority. He’ll be an instant fan favorite with his highlight-reel dunks.

When the 3-ball is falling, it opens up the drive, where Toppin is solid at exploding past his man for inline finishes. He has the ability to score with either hand in the post. His ability to elevate in a crowd is elite, although he isn’t a player that plays through contact all that well.

As a passer, Toppin showed the ability to make plays for others and he always has his eyes up scanning the floor. He is a willing passer, although he posted just a 2.2-to-2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.

He has plenty of issues on the defensive end, but he is long, plays the passing lanes well and can get off the floor for an occasional block.

RELATED: 2020 NBA mock draft 16.0: Projecting first-round picks after lottery

Weaknesses

For as gifted as Toppin is on the offensive end, he managed just 4.5 free throw attempts per game and barely shot over 70 percent from the stripe. He’ll need to learn how to play through contact better at the next level if he is going to be an elite scoring option.

He’s a solid ball handler, but not great. He got away with a lot of look offs and secondary attacks off the dribble, which will be difficult to pull off against NBA defenders.

 

Toppin can jump out of the building, but there are concerns that he plays too upright and can’t get down into a proper stance. This shows up on the rebounding end where he posted just 7.5 boards per game, but also on the defensive end.

Defending the perimeter will be an issue early in his career, especially with his body mechanics. He has length to close out on shooters, but he doesn’t have great hip swivel and will struggle to stay in front of his man on the perimeter.

The basketball IQ and effort are there, even on the defensive end, but he needs an NBA training staff to work out the kinks and build up his base. He’ll need to get stronger to hold his ground and to bang in the post, especially if he is going to play center for stretches.

Fit with Warriors

Toppin will need a lot of work on the defensive end, but he has the versatility and length to play either the four or the five. Golden State also has the luxury of having one of the better defenders in the league to pair with him in Draymond Green.

On the offensive end, Toppin would be a dream for coach Steve Kerr. He could use him in a two-man game with Steph Curry, put him in the corner to stretch the defense and use him as both a rim runner and a trailer in transition. His athleticism would add a new wrinkle to everything the Warriors do so well.

Toppin’s age should appeal to Golden State. They won’t have to wait years to reap the rewards of his play and there is even a possibility that he could start as a rookie alongside a star-studded veteran crew.

He may never become an above-average NBA defender, but he also might develop on that side of the ball. Toppin has a high basketball IQ and an NBA training staff could do wonders to fix some of the mechanical and flexibility issues.

Toppin doesn’t have the defensive potential of players like James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu, but he is two years ahead at a minimum on the offensive end and fits as a modern-day 4-5 combo.

Player Comparison

Amare Stoudemire, John Collins with range