Assessing Obi Toppin in the Dayton-Saint Louis Game

January 17th, 2020

by Alan Lu

I took the time to watch Dayton’s 6-9 redshirt sophomore forward, Obi Toppin play in an Atlantic-10 conference basketball game against my alma mater, Saint Louis that took place today. Toppin is an athletic, versatile player that can really score the basketball, and he could be a lottery pick in the 2020 draft. The last time I saw him play, he put forth terrific performances for his team at the Maui Invitational, as he was essentially the star of that tournament. Today, Toppin played fairly well, despite having gotten off to a slow start, as he then had a strong second half. Throughout this contest, he made a series of solid team plays to help his team get the overtime victory over Saint Louis, which culminated when his teammate, junior guard Jalen Crutcher pulled up to make a big three to beat the buzzer.

Dayton's redshirt sophomore big man, Obi Toppin had a solid showing in his team's overtime victory over Saint Louis.   (Photo: Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press, via The Commercial-News.)
Dayton’s redshirt sophomore big man, Obi Toppin had a solid showing in his team’s overtime victory over Saint Louis. (Photo: Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press, via The Commercial-News.)

Dayton’s redshirt sophomore big man, Obi Toppin played fairly well in his team’s overtime win over Saint Louis. He struggled to score in the post early on, and he was quite tentative in taking shots on occasion, as he especially didn’t look to score in overtime, but Toppin had a tremendous run in the second half, as his ability to shoot and score the basketball enabled him to thrive on offense, and he also made solid plays on both ends of the court to help his team in this game.

Toppin did a good job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He excelled at making long-range jumpers when given the time and space to do so, and he showed a knack for making spot-up threes off the catch. He also showed that he can make three-point shots off of pick and pop plays, and he would take advantage of defenders that would give him the room to shoot the basketball.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Toppin ran the floor well to score on fast breaks, and he managed to catch a lob pass to score on a riveting, alley-oop dunk in the second half. He also would crash the glass to get offensive rebounds, and he was able to dribble in to score on a put back. He did miss on a tip slam as he threw it down too hard, but Toppin did a very good job of using off-ball motion plays to get scores for his team.

Also, Toppin showed a good ability to get scores off the dribble. He was able to pull up to score on a bank shot around 15 feet to open the game, and he also has a good first step off the dribble that enables him to draw fouls upon his defenders.

However, he struggled to score consistently in the post. On the plus side, Toppin showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders to get opponents in foul trouble, as he especially could do so whenever the other team would try to put a smaller defender on him. However, Toppin missed on too many jump hooks early on. He would try to force up tough shots in traffic, and sometimes he would set up too far away, as he had trouble scoring from the block in the first half of this game.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Toppin is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and sometimes he can be unselfish to a fault, as that appeared to be the case at times in overtime, though his team still won the game. Late in regulation, Toppin drove hard to his left, and threw a nice drop off pass to Trey Landers to notch the assist, as he showed good ball handling skills and court vision on that play. He also set good screens to help get his teammates open looks on offense, as his teammates would capitalize by scoring on jumpers and drives to the basket. However, Toppin also committed a few turnovers, as a couple of them came when he was in the post. He was called for a moving screen, he also committed a 3 second violation when trying to back his man down in the post another time, and he also threw a hasty pass to a cutter from the post that ended up getting intercepted.

Toppin did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and he was active at crashing the glass. He also managed to chase down a couple of balls to get defensive rebounds for his team.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. For the positives, Toppin has good athleticism, length, and instincts to block shots in order to protect the paint. He can stay with opponents when guarding them out on the perimeter, and he also has the strength to hold his ground when defending in the post. He also would use his length to contest mid-range jumpers to force misses, and he also will play passing lanes to get deflections.

However, he had some trouble guarding opponents off the dribble, as he would get beat on moves to the hoop to allow scores. He also would be out of position and allow his man to get too deep when defending in the post, which would lead him prone to fouling. Other times, he would be too late to rotate on drives when his team would defend in transition.

In general, Obi Toppin played fairly well despite the slow start to this contest, as he made solid team plays, and he also excelled at making a variety of shots in the second half to help Dayton get a tough road win over Saint Louis. Right now, he looks to be a fairly good candidate to go in the lottery, as he could end up being a solid player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Dayton’s 6-1 junior guard, Jalen Crutcher played very well in his team’s overtime victory over Saint Louis, as he showed off versatile scoring skills, and he excelled at getting his team buckets in overtime, as he continuously came up big for his team down the stretch.

Crutcher excelled at scoring on strong drives to the basket. He has a good first step that allows him to regularly blow by his man, and he would tend to score on floaters in this game. He also managed to score on a reverse layup after driving right to the hoop another time. Plus, he showed a tremendous ability to get to the free throw line, especially in overtime, as he was virtually unguardable late in this match. He did miss on several runners, but Crutcher generally excelled at getting scores when looking to take the ball to the rim.

He also did a good job of making pull-up threes to space the floor for his team. Crutcher shot the ball well from downtown, as he was able to make a clutch, pull-up three on the last play of the game to get his team the win over Saint Louis.

In summary, Jalen Crutchers had a tremendous showing to lead his team to an overtime victory, and he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball. Though he has flown under the radar, he could be a good find for an NBA team either in the second round or as an undrafted player in the future, and Crutcher is a skilled player that could end up being a microwave type of scorer in the association.

Saint Louis’ 6-6 junior swingman, Javonte Perkins had a terrific game in his team’s tough loss to Dayton. He is an athletic player that excelled at scoring off the dribble, as he would frequently get to the hoop to score points, and he showed a good ability to make floaters and shots off the glass.

He also was able to score on a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound, and Perkins also ran off the ball to make a quick mid-range jumper from around the left elbow. Plus, Perkins showed a knack for scoring off of cuts as well as in transition, and he really was able to get draw and make many free throws in this game.

However, he struggled to make threes though, and he was unable to connect on any of his long-range shots from beyond the arc. Perkins also would leap up to get offensive rebounds in traffic. Defensively, he looked to be about average. He was able to poke a ball away to get a steal and he also blocked a shot, but he also had trouble defending in the post and he would forget to communicate on defense, as there was one play that led his teammate to get blasted on a screen in the backcourt.

Overall, Perkins is an athletic, energetic swingman that excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, as he can get scores off the dribble, as well as off-ball motion plays. He will need to improve his jump shot, but he is a player that could be a prospect to follow for the 2021 draft.

Saint Louis’ 6-7 junior forward, Hasahn French had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Dayton. He showed a decent ability to score in the post, as he has good strength and footwork to garner plenty of free throws and scores, and he also scored on an up and under move once. He did struggle to make jump hooks or put backs consistently though, and he had trouble making free throws despite showing a knack to get to the foul line.

He also committed several turnovers, as he would be prone to committing ball-handling turnovers when heavily pressured. French did a very good job of rebounding and blocking shots, and he even leapt up to swat a dunk attempt off of a drive to teammate once to show his ability to block shots. He also managed to swat a three point shot to a teammate another time, and French can also pick off passes to get steals. However, he had some trouble guarding opponents off the dribble and in the post, and he would sometimes give up too much space, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Hasahn French is tough, physical bruiser that can score with his back to the basket, and he also is a good rebounder and shot blocker. However, there may be serious concerns of whether or not if his game will translate to the next level. More specifically, he is an undersized power forward that does not seem to have any sort of face-up game and seems to lack the perimeter skills to be able to transition to playing the small forward position at the next level. Still, it’s been fun to watch French play as he has been putting up solid numbers at the collegiate level, and he’s helped turn the Billikens into a team that could potentially make the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Right now, he may be a long shot to be drafted, but French could end up succeeding in the G-League and/or overseas, even if he does not end up making his way to the NBA in the near future.

Dayton’s 6-5 junior guard, Ibi Watson did a good job of making a variety of shots to help his team on offense. He showed a decent ability to make turnaround jumpers off the dribble, though he struggled to score in traffic on other plays. Watson also can move off the ball, and he did a good job of making spot-up three-point shots. He also showed a knack for making pull-up, mid-range jumpers off the dribble. Overall, Watson did a good job of scoring the basketball, and he could be a prospect to watch for the 2021 draft.

Saint Louis’ 6-3 junior guard, Jordan Goodwin had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Dayton. He got off to a hot start by making a slew of jumpers early on, and he rebounded the ball very well, but his struggles at the free throw line as evidenced by him missing three straight free throws after being fouled on a three-point shot helped lead to his shooting woes in this contest.

Goodwin showed a knack for running off ball screens to make a series of jumpers early on, as he can make threes and mid-range jumpers, and he can do so off the catch and dribble. He even drew three free throws on a deep three, but when he missed all of them in the first half, he ended up getting into a shooting slump that was hard for him to break out of for the pretty much the duration of the match.

While Goodwin showed the ability to draw free throws on aggressive drives to the hoop, and managed to score on a speedy drive in transition once, Goodwin often had trouble making runners, and he also would miss shots awkwardly from the post. He also tended to miss too many shots on put back attempts, despite dribbling in to score on a reverse layup in traffic off of a put back once, as he tended to force up off-balanced shots that would lead to misses. And while he would often get to the foul line, he didn’t do a good job of making his free throws when he was there, so there would be plenty of times where his trips there would prove to be fruitless.

Also, he was quite turnover prone on offense. He would throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would get intercepted, and he also tended to commit careless ball-handling turnovers, which would compound his mistakes.

On the plus side, Goodwin did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball. Defensively, he looked to be about average. On the plus side, he would apply considerable ball pressure, and he was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal. However, he tended to pick up quick fouls due to over-aggressiveness, and he eventually fouled out late in overtime.

Overall, Goodwin didn’t have his best game, but he was able to pour on points early, as he gave Saint Louis fans hope that their team could perhaps beat Dayton. The Billikens would go on to lose this match, but they played hard, and gave it their best. Goodwin will need to improve his jump shot and cut down on the number of turnovers and fouls he tends to commit in games. Right now, he will need to stay in school to hone his game, but he is an athletic, combo guard that could project to be an effective role player if he can improve upon his weaknesses and be more consistently productive in games.

Dayton’s 6-5 senior guard, Trey Landers showed a good ability to make shots, as he can make spot-up threes, and he can score on quick drives as well as score on strong moves in the post. He also set a very hard screen in the backcourt due to possessing great strength, which enabled his teammate to drive quickly up the floor to score the basketball.

Landers also showed a good ability to get steals. He was able to jump a pass to get steals, and he also tied up an opposing ball handler to force another turnover. However, he had some trouble defending on the ball as he doesn’t possess elite lateral quickness, and he tended to commit fouls when guarding opposing ball handlers.

Overall, Landers is a tough, physical swingman that has been the consummate role player for his team, as he is a fill-in-the-blanks type of player that can make plays on both ends of the floor. There are times where it seems like he may be fading into the background a bit too much, but his ability to make shots efficiently, set screens, and defend make him a solid role player in college. There are questions if he can be a consistent shooter or consistently get his shot off at the next level, but he may have the intangibles to make it as a rotation player if he ends up making his way to the NBA.

Saint Louis’ 6-0 freshman point guard, Yuri Collins is a speedy playmaker that showed a knack for scoring on fast drives to the hoop, and he also can draw plenty of free throws to get to the foul line. He will push the pace to get his teammates the ball in transition, and he will hound opponents to get steals. However, he did not take any threes and was very turnover prone, as he tended to commit ball-handling turnovers due to recklessness.   Defensively, he did a good job of forcing turnovers, and he is a fleet-footed guard that will apply heavy ball pressure, but he also would sometimes foul shooters due to over-aggressiveness.

Right now, Collins will need to stay in school to hone his overall game, but he may be an intriguing prospect due to his athleticism, defensive abilities, and playmaking potential. He will also need to be more aggressive in looking for his own shots in the future and he will have to expand his shooting range eventually, but right now, he will need to work on taking better care of the basketball. If he can continue to progress as an overall player, he could perhaps end up making his way to the league over time as a backup point guard in the association.

In conclusion, Dayton is a very good defensive team that boasts having a terrific big man in Obi Toppin, and they also have guards that defend well. Toppin struggled to make shots early on, but he excelled at scoring the basketball in the second half, and he made solid team plays throughout this contest to help get his team the win. For Dayton, they look to be a solid team that possesses a good inside-outside scoring attack, but their occasional defensive breakdowns could potentially be worrisome in postseason play. Still, they played well down the stretch, and Dayton looks to be a solid team that looks like they will be seeded fairly well in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

As for the Billikens, I’m not sure if they will make the NCAA Tournament this year, but there’s hope that they could, and they do look to be a fairly good college team. They have an athletic group of players that are tough and defend well, and they have players that can score off the dribble as well as in the post. Their Achilles heel though appears to be their inability to make long-range jumpers or free throws, and the Billikens especially struggled to make free throws in this contest. There was even one graphic that pointed out that they are currently among the worst free throw shooting teams in the country, so that will definitely be one area they will need to work on.

Right now, there may be a better chance that the Billikens may end up in the NIT instead of the NCAAs, especially since having Dayton around means it’ll be significantly tougher for Saint Louis to win the conference tournament, but there’s hope that due to having a fairly talented group of players that defend well, that they could perhaps make their way back to the Big Dance just like last year.