NBA Draft: Where will Obi Toppin begin his pro career?

The NBA Draft begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN. There’s little doubt it will have more viewers from Dayton than in any previous season. That’s because Obi Toppin is expected to be drafted in the top 10, perhaps even in the top five.

» ARCHDEACON: One last alley-oop between Crutcher and Toppin

The draft experts have been been making their predictions all year. Here’s a glance at some of the most recent mock drafts:

Return to Ohio

The most likely team to pick Toppin is the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to many experts.

Kevin O’Connor, of The Ringer: "Toppin is an explosive offensive presence who can play inside or outside, though his defensive shortcomings are worrisome. One person who’s seen Toppin work out told me they were impressed by his progress moving laterally since his season at Dayton ended; it’s hard to get a read on that until we see him in a real game, but it’s vital his defense improves to at least a passable level. The Cavaliers are also looking to trade down a few spots to scoop up additional assets and still select Toppin, league sources say.”

Jeremy Woo, of Sports Illustrated: "Toppin and Deni Avdija have been the two players strongly connected to Cleveland, with the team in search of a more versatile frontcourt piece to pair with its young guards. With Avdija off the board in this case, the Cavs land Toppin, who starred down the road at Dayton and is viewed as someone who can contribute immediately. The Cavs are thought to be open to trading back, but it’s unclear as to what they’d want, and they should ultimately be comfortable with the choices available here. Cleveland is still waiting on real returns from young guards Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter, and drafting a backcourt player here – even if it would be an upgrade—would throw a wrench in that development process.”

» WHO IS TOPPIN: What to know about the former UD star

Jonathan Givony, of ESPN: “There are several reasons for the Cavs to be attracted to Toppin, who played a couple of hours down the road at Dayton and would bring considerable enthusiasm with his explosive style of play. The best player in college basketball last season, Toppin is older than Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., making him a fit with the team’s timeline.

Andy Katz, of Fox Sports: "Toppin will be a steal for Cleveland if he falls to No. 5. He’s a rising star. Moving from Dayton to Cleveland, Dayton could give the Cavs their next local star.”

Sam Smith, of “They supposedly really want Avdija, so perhaps the Bulls could make a one-pick swap as they did with the Cavs in 2000 when the Bulls selected Chris Mihm No. 7 and traded him to Cleveland for Jamal Crawford at No. 8 to basically save that draft which included five bust picks for the Bulls. It’s too conventional to guess Toppin, who played in Ohio. Though it’s finally time the NBA had an Obi, he being the One. He looks like an excellent offensive player and scorer, and perhaps they finally can get rid of Kevin Love.”

Other picks

• The Los Angeles Times asked beat writers from each team to combine on a mock draft. Ian Begley, of SNY TV, predicted the New York Knicks would draft Toppin with the No. 8 pick. If the Knicks draft Toppin, he’ll get to play in his hometown.

“Toppin is considered one of the best offensive players in this draft — an elite passer for his position who can put a ton of pressure on the rim,” Begley wrote. “The questions for Toppin are on the defensive end. It will be interesting to see how coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff can develop Toppin on that side of the floor.”

» OBI ESSAY: Toppin looks back on Dayton career

• Gary Parrish, of CBS Sports, predicts the Chicago Bulls with draft Toppin with the No. 4 pick.

“Obi Toppin is a former zero-star recruit who became the National Player of the Year at Dayton,” Parrish wrote. "I’d personally make him the favorite to be Rookie of the Year while helping Billy Donovan establish a culture that eventually brings the Bulls back to respectability.

• Few writers predict Toppin will drop out of the top 10. One who does is Ricky O’Donnell, of He thinks the New Orleans Pelicans will draft Toppin with the No. 13 pick.

"Toppin slides down my own personal board a bit because of his major defensive shortcomings, but there’s no denying how dynamic he is offensively. I admit this fit might not make much sense with Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes already in the front court, but Toppin feels like the clear best talent on the board and that is really all you need to take him.

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