Cavs: 2 goals for Obi Toppin if he’s 2020 NBA Draft pick

Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin celebrates after a made shot. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin celebrates after a made shot. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be high on Obi Toppin.

Most early mock drafts from the beginning of the season did not have Obi Toppin in their top five or even top 10. Here he is today though, a potential top five pick after being the 2020 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-9 220-pound power forward has now skyrocketed after an explosive season with Dayton, and had 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per outing. At 22 years old he is now ready for the draft and could be available for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the fifth pick.

Recently,’s Chris Fedor (subscription required) mocked Toppin at #5 to the Cavaliers, for further context.

Granted, there are defensive concerns regarding Toppin, and I won’t completely dismiss those, but his offensive polish and stretch big qualities shouldn’t be discounted in today’s NBA.

So, if Toppin does get drafted by the Cavs, here are two goals for him for next season.

The first goal is to find a role and position with the team.

Goal #1: Find a consistent role/position with the Cavs

The frontcourt for the Cavaliers is somewhat crowded with Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and Andre Drummond, but in this case, I wouldn’t imagine the to-be unrestricted free agent Tristan Thompson would be back.

And for a quick side note, while Drummond is reportedly still undecided regarding his $28.7 million player option decision, it is still hard to foresee him not eventually pick that up/be a Cav at least for a good chunk of next season, as KJG’s Dan Gilinsky hit on.

Swinging back to Toppin, anyhow, it would be unlikely Toppin starts immediately barring a trade. This could make it harder for him to find his role within the team.

Obi’s athleticism and strength allow him to play the power forward position and even center in a smaller lineup, though. Nonetheless, Love and Drummond, while both could seemingly be moved down the road, could very well occupy most of the 4/5 minutes for a large portion of next season. Let’s not gloss over Nance, either.

In any case, this Toppin 2020 NBA Draft selection would be a pick based on the best available player for Cleveland, as Fedor noted. Toppin is likely to be the most proven player available at that pick, and the safest, so he could still find a consistent role/position as an inside-out scorer.

When a team picks the best talent available regardless of the roster, fit and needs it is because they’re desperate for talent and will figure out the rest later. They just want the best player there. That means it is very important for Obi to carve himself out a role no matter the roster fit, and he’d appear more than capable of doing so.

Moving on, the second goal would be for him to keep improving.

Goal #2: Keep improving for the Cavs

This is an obvious one but is different for a player who is already 22. Toppin was a redshirt in his freshman year in the 2017-2018 season. Many of the top five prospects in the NBA over history are young freshmen who have been projected to be potentially serious talent since high school.

Obi slowly but surely turned himself into a potential top five pick over his three years at Dayton, and that is the type of improvement he is going to need to keep striving for.

He went from a redshirt his freshman year to averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in his second season. He also only made 11 three-pointers on 22 attempts his debut season.

In his third and final season at Dayton, though, Toppin increased his averages to those aforementioned 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds, while again also adding 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per contest. But again the defensive concerns at the next level are clearly there.

Albeit on the plus side, he also took nearly four times the amount of three-pointers in his last season at Dayton, increasing it from 0.6 per game to 2.6. Toppin got to the free throw line a lot more in his final year, too, attempting nearly two more free throws per game.

Moreover, he was named the 2020 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year.

However, when an NBA prospect is entering the draft at 22 years old, it can lead people to think they are close to their ceiling since they are older than most top five prospects. While their game is polished, their age and time in college matter.

To put this in perspective, Collin Sexton, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2018 first-round pick, who has played NBA two seasons now, is younger than Toppin. While this does raise questions about how close he is to his ceiling, it proves Toppin can improve dramatically in short periods, too.

He will need to continue this improvement in the NBA, especially on the defensive side if he is matched up against bigs every night.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: Top 15 draft picks in franchise history. dark

If he could translate his athleticism and offensive pick-and-roll skills to the NBA while improving his defensive tools he could have a bright future in the league.