There always seems to be a bull and bear market for every prospect in the NBA Draft. They ride a wave of whispered excitement, unsourced enthusiasm from scouts and executives and get their name run through the rumor mill. That wave eventually crests and there is an inevitable backlash where flaws are dissected and the rumor mill becomes more like a meat grinder.
It seems like today Obi Toppin is riding high — we’ll see if he can ride this wave all the way to the draft or if he’ll inevitably face a backlash of his own.
All of that is to say that Jonathan Wasserman has a write-up of Toppin in Bleacher Report, a potential stretch five with all kinds of scoring gifts. He’s also got a share of red flags — age, level of competition, rebounding, etc. — but we won’t dwell on him as a prospect other than to say it certainly seems like he’s a top-10 pick.
Wasserman writes, though, that Toppin has fans all the way up the draft board up to and including the Minnesota Timberwolves, who own the No. 1 pick. He also mentions Detroit, but, strangely, never actually indicates that the Pistons are particularly interested in Toppin.
The article says that Toppin is a hot name rising up the draft board because teams are confident his offensive game will easily translate to today’s NBA, and also that he has scored well on character and work ethic among those who have looked into him.
Teams are buying into Toppin’s scoring carrying over based on his explosiveness, inside-out skill level and efficient volume production. And while they acknowledge the concerns about his defense, nobody seems too alarmed or ready to suggest they’ll negate or neutralize his projected offensive output.
“Everything he does offensively translates,” one scout told Bleacher Report.
“He has great touch with both hands, and his shooting looks like it could be replicated over and over,” said one NBA executive. “A stretch 5 than can be a finisher is tough to ignore. He’ll never be quick laterally, but he’s capable.”
Sounds great! So what does he say about the Pistons, specifically? It’s harder to parse.
Wasserman’s first mention of Detroit is this extremely frustrating but intriguing sentence: “Asking around the league, it seems highly unlikely Toppin will make it to the Detroit Pistons at No. 7.”
That seems to imply that the Pistons certainly wish Toppin would be there at seven, but it doesn’t actually state it. Later in the article, Wasserman writes:
Scouts and agents have mentioned that the Pistons, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics have expressed interest in moving up, though it’s unclear who they’d target. The Suns and Celtics are motivated to win now and could view Toppin as an immediate contributor. He could also interest the Pistons and Knicks, organizations with blank-canvas rosters and possible motivation to add a sure thing.
In an article gauging interest in a specific prospect, Wasserman writes that Detroit wants to trade up, but says specifically it’s unclear who a potential target would be. Maybe it’s Toppin. But maybe not! Isn’t that fun!
For what it’s worth, my gut tells me the Pistons would only trade up for someone they viewed as an elite ball handler on a team in desperate need of one. That doesn’t particularly sound like Toppin to me. I also presume it would cost an awful lot to move up and for Troy Weaver to bet so much on the LaMelo Balls or Anthony Edwards of the world seems similarly unlikely. But we’ll see.
What do you think about the Pistons grabbing Toppin should he inexplicably last all the way to No. 7? Can he be an elite stretch five in the NBA? Is he too old? Does he have too many defensive limitations? Is it point guard or bust for Detroit?
Recent Detroit Bad Boys podcast guest Rafael Barlowe broke down Toppin in March.