NY Knicks: Who does Obi Toppin remind us of in the NBA?

DAYTON, OH - FEBRUARY 11: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers reacts in the first half of a game against the Rhode Island Rams at UD Arena on February 11, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton defeated Rhode Island 81-67. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DAYTON, OH - FEBRUARY 11: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers reacts in the first half of a game against the Rhode Island Rams at UD Arena on February 11, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton defeated Rhode Island 81-67. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Which NBA players provide a glimpse into the potential of New York Knicks draft pick Obi Toppin?

As it does with every NBA Draft, hope springs eternal, as the New York Knicks selected Dayton Flyers high-flyer Obi Toppin with the eighth pick on Wednesday night. As fans look ahead and dream of what Toppin could be, it’s important to note that it’s extremely rare for a prospect to come in and completely re-define the paradigm of what we can reasonably expect from an NBA player.

Even if Toppin becomes a 10-time All Star with three MVP’s (hey, we’re still in a honeymoon phase), his game will include aspects of players we currently watch in the league, and have watched in the past.

Which players will Obi Toppin’s game most resemble? We’ve aggregated some player comparisons from different corners of the Internet to see how viable they might be as realistic projections for who Toppin’s game will most look like.

NBADraft.net: Kenyon Martin/Shawn Marion

It’s understandable why fans might liken Obi to Kenyon Martin—athletic guys who both played their college ball in Ohio, and were taken high in relatively weak draft classes. Martin was taken first overall in the 2000 Draft, and had a nice career in the NBA, including a cup of coffee with the Knicks towards the end of his career.

While Toppin’s high-flying act offensive act is akin to K-Mart’s ferocious rim running with the New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets, Toppin has nowhere near the rugged defensive mentality the former Cincinnati Bearcats star possessed. Martin had three college seasons where he averaged over 2 blocks per game, while Obi topped out (pun intended) at 1.2 rejections per game last season. It would seem unlikely that Toppin ever becomes the feared enforcer in the paint that Martin was during his time in the league.

The Shawn Marion comparison, on the other hand, is likely an extremely fitting one (at least on the offensive end). With the Flyers, Toppin’s willingness to run the floor and fill in the wing on the break was reminiscent of Marion’s ability to get up and down the floor off a miss on the other end. Another similarity in their games is their ability to make the uncontested open three pointer, while being less effective trying to get their own shot off from distance.

Last season with Dayton, Toppin shot 39 percent from distance on just under three attempts per game, which is encouraging, but his release was a bit on the slower side. While his shot is not as unorthodox as Marion’s push shot was, it doesn’t seem like Obi will be pulling up from distance with a hand in his face and having a ton of success. The prized rookie has a long way to go on the defensive end to be comparable to Marion’s on ball defense, but with Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage, the lateral quickness and instincts can be developed.

NBA Draft Room: Drew Gooden/Amar’e Stoudemire

If you told Knicks fans that they would be drafting someone in the lottery whose potential is most reminiscent of Drew Gooden, they would be inclined to drive right off the West Side highway and into the Hudson River.

Gooden, a former fourth overall pick himself, had a solid career in the NBA, playing 14 seasons bringing toughness and size to many of frontcourts. The good news for fans of the orange and blue is that this comparison doesn’t seem valid mostly because Gooden’s skill set in the league has mostly been phased out. While teams do employ a shot-blocking big at the 5, they usually don’t play two non floor spacers to clog up the paint like they did 10 or more years ago. Toppin won’t really be allowed to develop into a Drew Gooden because no team is looking for that type of player anymore.

Comparing Toppin to our old friend STAT (Standing Tall And Talented) Amar’e Stoudemire really hits home in a lot of ways. When Stoudemire first came to the Knicks in 2010, he brought the thunderous finishes and explosive power at the rim everyone had wished for in his first season. After that, it was never quite the same for Amar’e, but if Toppin can flash that type of finishing ability for multiple seasons, fans could be redeemed for the years of highlight reel plays not delivered by Stoudemire towards the end of his Knicks career.

But Amar’e would not have become the player he was without the help of the quality point guard play he received with the Phoenix Suns, and if the Knicks don’t improve at that position, it will be hard for Toppin to showcase his powers on a consistent basis. But his leaping ability does make this a reasonable comparison.

The Ringer: Kyle Kuzma

While Toppin (who clocks in at 6’9” and 220 pounds) and Kuzma (who’s 6’8” and 221 pounds) have very similar measurables from a physical standpoint, this doesn’t quite feel right as an adequate comparison.

Kuzma, who often times gets criticized for his play by Lakers fans, is actually a lot more skilled on the offensive end of the floor. He has a good mid-range game, and is a respectable threat from three point range, even with defenders flying at him to contest the shot.

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At this point in time, it doesn’t seem like Toppin has the level of touch on his shot, and will likely not reach the “heat check” levels of scoring Kuzma can provide. Additionally, Obi seems to be way more athletic than the Los Angeles Lakers forward, which limits the number of common traits the two players have in their games.