Detroit Pistons: Could Obi Toppin eventually replace Blake Griffin?

DAYTON, OH - FEBRUARY 28: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers is seen during the game against the Davidson Wildcats at UD Arena on February 28, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
DAYTON, OH - FEBRUARY 28: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers is seen during the game against the Davidson Wildcats at UD Arena on February 28, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

With the NBA Draft on the eventual horizon, the Detroit Pistons could find themselves in a position to draft Griffin’s replacement.

Whenever we finally receive concrete information as to when the NBA Draft will occur and if the season will continue, the Detroit Pistons may be in a prime position to draft a player who drastically improves their chances of winning down the line.

Whether it’s LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, Anthony Edwards, or anyone else depends entirely on the order of the actual draft itself.

Ed Stefanski, Senior Adviser of the Pistons said in a recent interview that the current plan is to draft the best available player at the time of their pick. Which again, could mean an assortment of things.

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Obi Toppin is a player that has been put in an awkward position in recent mock drafts. Some expect him to slide down in the draft, and some expect that he could be taken with one of the first two or three picks.

A lot of it stems from his lack of effort on the defensive end. For as good as he is offensively, he struggles as much on defense. This has lead to teams being weary of his ultimate impact at the next level.

So hypothetically if Detroit found themselves in a position to select him, the odds are that they’d pull the trigger despite him not being a direct positional need for the organization. His offensive upside may be too high to pass on.

If this were to happen he would likely spend a majority of the season with the second unit behind Blake Griffin, unless they put Griffin at small forward and they’re able to coexist.

The only likely instance where Toppin sees the starting lineup for an extended period of time is if Griffin goes down with an injury, which isn’t really inconceivable to imagine.

At first glance the two share similarities from their college days, most notably the sheer force and power that they use to attack the basket. Toppin’s court vision is slightly sharper than Griffin’s was as a prospect.

The way that Blake currently plays, he’s able to effectively hit on a lot of pick and pops, and ironically it’s the one thing that Toppin tends to do too much. He’s frequently complacent with taking unnecessary shots.

Other than that his shot IQ is pretty solid. He generally sticks to shots that he knows he can make. His explosiveness around the basket and his soft touch in the post would make for a pretty decent scoring punch in Detroit.

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So could Toppin be the long term power forward option for the Pistons once Griffin eventually departs?

It’s currently easier to imagine this not being the case than anything else. This draft class is full of players who have a ton of potential offensively, but their game on the other end of the floor legitimately hurts their stock.

When talking about those types of players, Toppin’s name has to be first on the list.

It could be a legitimately crippling flaw that eventually loses him minutes in the NBA. Under a coach like Dwane Casey who holds defensive effort in such a high regard, that wouldn’t fly here.

His close outs are generally too slow, his lack awareness causes him to lose his opponent, and his poor footing creates easy driving lanes for ball handlers.

Those are just a few of the major issues that he’d bring to the table. There could be somewhat of a balance between his elevated abilities on offense that, in a way, cancel out his poor defense but that remains to be seen.

The only way he could be a long term option for Detroit is if he fixes the aforementioned issues, and then some.

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