Cavs going Obi Toppin in mock draft is eye-rolling

Dayton Flyers big Obi Toppin looks on. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Dayton Flyers big Obi Toppin looks on. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Obi Toppin-to-Cleveland Cavaliers chatter is not going away.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are slated to have the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which is going to finally commence on Nov. 18.

For the Cavaliers, it’s evident that they need to prioritize the defensive end of the floor, to really give their Darius Garland-Collin Sexton starting backcourt a real chance to consistently succeed in coming years. In the general sense, too, the Wine and Gold are not exactly loaded with impact defenders, particularly on the wing.

Cleveland has ranked last in the NBA in defensive rating the last two seasons, so, one would think, they’d go defense here, if the Wine and Gold were to eventually take their selection. And I firmly believe they ultimately will.

In that spot, the Cavaliers should have at least one of Isaac Okoro, Deni Avdija and/or Devin Vassell available in terms of wings, albeit Vassell’s new shot would seemingly take him more out of consideration there.

In terms of bigs, while James Wiseman could reportedly be available by a fall to that spot, I’m personally not a fan, and his three-game sample size at Memphis is far from a selling point.

Meanwhile, Onyeka Okongwu, who projects to be a switchable big if needed, is a polished low-post player, and could be an ideal 5 of the future with serious playmaking potential, too, I’d be on-board with there.

Unfortunately, a player mocked to the Cavaliers consistently as of late, big Obi Toppin, would seem to be well in-play, and perhaps more so, really.

And a recent mock draft from’s Chris Fedor (subscription required) is on-script with that Toppin-to-Cleveland talk. Fedor, for further context, did note that the top picks (Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors) could very well be on trade watch, though.

Anyhow, Fedor essentially cited a “best player available” explanation for Cleveland going with Toppin in his recent mock, albeit he did acknowledge that Toppin “won’t help much on defense,” so let’s get that out there. And that’s not great.

This recent mock of Toppin to the Cavs is eye-rolling.

The key selling point for Toppin is his offensive polish. Toppin was the number one option for Dayton in 2019-20, and had 20.0 points per outing on 63.3 percent shooting, and he hit 39.0 percent of his 2.6 three-point attempts per game.

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The guy was last season’s Naismith Award winner, and is highly capable on the interior as a roller, a post threat, and is so explosive as a vertical finisher that plays with power in that way.

I don’t discount Toppin as a spot-up threat, either, albeit I question if that could eventually be the case with notable volume down the road.

In any case, the reason that this Toppin-to-Cleveland mock is eye-rolling, from my perspective and I’m sure a whole lot of Cavs fans, is the major defensive concerns with Toppin. He’d be exposed on that end of the floor, due to significant defensive IQ issues, and his lack of lateral quickness.

And though Toppin had 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per outing at Dayton, it’s very, very hard to foresee him being an impact defender at the NBA level; those stock numbers likely won’t translate in his pro career.

There were lapses from him as a rotator at Dayton too often, and Toppin would be targeted in pick-and-roll situations often in his minutes-share with the Cavs.

Now, I understand the Cavaliers could very well look to trade Kevin Love, but I still wouldn’t expect that to honestly happen before/during next season.

And while Andre Drummond could reportedly be a deadline trade piece, realistically, for Cleveland, it still seems likely the Cavs at least want to give him some real time alongside other pieces for a proper evaluation. That’s provided he opts into his player option, which is said to be highly likely.

Let’s also not dismiss Larry Nance Jr., either, whose been a steadily improving player, and contributes in a myriad of ways on both ends for Cleveland.

So while looking onward, I can understand where the Cavaliers would be coming from with a Toppin pick, it’s unclear if he can be even somewhat competent in the team sense defensively. And for a dude that’s already 22, that’s far from encouraging for a team desperately in need of capable defenders.

Even with Dylan Windler hopefully being a key bench contributor this upcoming season, and perhaps the Cavs looking to add a wing via the mid-level exception could be feasible, as Fedor alluded to, I’d much rather the Cavs avoid Toppin if he’s there.

We’ll ultimately see what plays out during 2020 NBA Draft night, but if the Cleveland Cavaliers were to go with a big at their #5 selection, Okongwu, if there, could be a far better player in terms of impacting winning I believe.

I’d clearly be more on-board with Okoro, too, for example, with the Cavs potentially bringing the to-be unrestricted Tristan Thompson back, seemingly via one-year deal from there, as an alternative.

Next. Whether or not Cavs should trade down in 2020 NBA Draft. dark

Moreover, we’ll still see plenty of mocks from here leading up to the upcoming draft, and as Fedor hit on, the Cavs could go a number of different ways, depending on what shakes out before them.