2020 NBA Draft Watch: Obi Toppin should be a top priority for the San Antonio Spurs

DAYTON, OHIO - DECEMBER 17: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers in action in the game against the North Texas Mean Green at UD Arena on December 17, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
DAYTON, OHIO - DECEMBER 17: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers in action in the game against the North Texas Mean Green at UD Arena on December 17, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

With the increasing likelihood of being in the draft lottery, the San Antonio Spurs should begin scouting top prospects like Dayton’s Obi Toppin in this year’s upcoming talent pool. 

The San Antonio Spurs’ season has been far from what many had anticipated coming into the year. With the return of a healthy Dejounte Murray, the Spurs looked poised to remain competitive in a stacked Western Conference. However, this season has been plagued with inconsistency, embarrassing losses to lottery teams and lackluster defensive efforts.

Not to mention questionable front office decisions that have dated back to the summertime. Most notably, trading away Davis Bertans for pennies on the dollar, the failed Marcus Morris deal and the questionable DeMarre Carroll signing, who was just bought out of his contract this week.

That, coupled with San Antonio’s stubborn insistence to stand pat leading up to the trade deadline, opting not to trade away DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge, has left many fans, for the first time in over two decades, wondering what’s next.

This uncharacteristic combination of ingredients has created a Molotov cocktail that will land the Spurs in unfamiliar territory: the draft lottery. Although the Spurs are sitting at the 10th spot in the Western Conference with a 23-31 record, the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns are both right on their heels and look better positioned to make late-season pushes.

With the acceptance that San Antonio will have one of their highest draft picks in quite some time, the focus should now be redirected towards making the best selection that will help the franchise get back on track.

This year in college basketball has been a hectic one, to say the least. Parity has been the name of the game, with upsets aplenty and non-blue blood schools such as Baylor, Gonzaga, San Diego State, Dayton and more occupying a majority of the top spots.

While we have yet to see a clear-cut, preeminent talent such as Zion Williamson emerge this season, one of the most compelling and consistent players in the country thus far has been Dayton’s Obi Toppin.

The sophomore from Brooklyn, NY has skyrocketed up draft boards with his elite play and has been the primary reason the Flyers are currently the No. 5 team in the nation. Toppin boasts a 6’9″, 220-lb frame and is an absolute bruiser with the ability to punish defenders on the post-up or knock down the triple from long range.

The 6’9″ power forward delivered solid numbers during his freshman campaign in Ohio but has taken his game to the next level in his second season, averaging 19.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG while shooting an uber-efficient 62.4 percent from the field and connecting on 36.2 percent of his three-point attempts.

Toppin fits the prototypical build for the NBA’s modern big with his versatility to play virtually anywhere on the court. His bread and butter is operating in the paint where he can bully defenders, but he can also stretch the floor with his three-point shooting prowess.

The fluidity of his game would serve as a valuable asset for the Spurs, who use a big man like Toppin to complement the cohort of young guards they already possess. In addition, despite only being a sophomore, Toppin’s basketball IQ jumps off the page.

Toppin is a skilled tactician in the pick-and-roll and has an organic feel for the game, evidenced by his ability to move effectively without the ball, exploit matchups and utilize cuts to set up easy buckets.

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Earlier in the season, Toppin joined ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter to discuss Dayton’s impressive season thus far. With regard to the sophomore’s rapid ascension, SVP asked him what NBA comparison he’d heard the most. Toppin offered two names: Amar’e Stoudemire and Al Horford. Certainly not bad company to keep.

Based on his college resume, Toppin has the requisite toolkit to potentially develop into a more athletic version of Horford. Despite his size, Toppin is an underrated playmaker and is more than willing to create for others when he’s not asserting his dominance in the paint.

With the Spurs set to pick somewhere in the early teens of the 2020 draft, there is a solid chance Toppin will be available for them to select. In a year of uncertainty, Toppin is the closest thing to a surefire bet and he’s arguably the most NBA-ready player in this entire draft class.

Plus, Toppin can do things like this:

"Oh my goodness!"@DaytonMBB | @A10MBB pic.twitter.com/H70DCJLYV2

— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 12, 2020

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With the selection of Toppin, the Spurs would add a fundamentally sound team-player who will be ready to make an immediate impact. Should Toppin land in San Antonio, it would be the silver lining on what has been a remarkably underwhelming season and hopefully a preview of an exciting future.