NBA Draft
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NBA Draft Prospect Analysis: Dayton vs. Kansas (2019)

The Dayton vs. Kansas game on November 27, 2019, is widely regarded as one of the best games of the college basketball season. It was the championship game in the Maui Invitational tournament and resulted in a Kansas 90-84 victory in overtime. It was a star-studded game full of NBA level talent. This game will go a long ways in analyzing some of the top prospects in the NBA Draft, so I decided to revisit it.

Leading the charge of future pros in this game was Dayton’s Obi Toppin. Toppin is a 6’9″ sophomore power forward who elevated his game in 2019-2020 in a way that no one could have imagined. He went from being virtually unknown to the Wooden Award winner and a potential top 10 draft selection. The Flyers also have Jalen Crutcher, a 6’1″ junior point guard. While uncertain, his name is currently in the 2020 NBA Draft list. For the Jayhawks, prospects Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike will likely be in the NBA next season. Dotson is a 6’2″ sophomore point guard who was a 5-star recruit in 2018. Azubuike is a 7’0″ 270 pound senior center who holds the highest career field goal percentage in the history of the NCAA at 74.9%.

Obi Toppin

If Toppin wasn’t a household name before Dayton squared off against Kansas, he certainly was after. In a primetime championship game, Toppin led the Flyer’s comeback by pouring in 18 points on 6-11 shooting, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. I watched Toppin live last season versus Tulsa and he caught my eye due to his freakish athleticism. However, he drastically improved on the offensive end in the past year.

Against Kansas, he was incredibly active on offense. He was constantly moving, setting screens, slipping, sealing his man, and just creating space for the offense to operate. He started off slow scoring the ball (wasn’t in the scorers column until the 5:25 mark), but he did not force shots. When he got in rhythm, he was tough to defend. He can score from anywhere on the court and his physicality helps him dominate in the low post. Toppin excelled in transition and found himself open for a lot of alley-oop opportunities. He should succeed as a rim runner with an impressive vertical at the next level. He has a serviceable shooting stroke from three which should also be a big part of his game in the NBA.

Toppin actually played better than I had expected on the defensive end. He is constantly knocked for his defensive efforts and tendencies, but he plays with a high IQ. He held his own against Udoka Azubuike for the first half, but he started to lose positioning and began to lose the strength battle in the second half. Because of that, I am a bit concerned about his stamina and whether or not he will be able to handle the NBA’s more versatile bigs. He can get into trouble on ball screens and switches and even if a big man puts it on the floor against him. In the second half, Toppin started to get a bit lazy and relied more on length and athleticism rather than strength and positioning. This will not bode well for him when guarding a player of his athletic nature in the NBA.

I’ve seen people have Toppin outside their top 15 prospects and I cannot disagree more. He is easily one of the top scorers in this draft class and he showed against Kansas that he can get buckets against anyone and from virtually anywhere. He is an intelligent player who has a very high floor, but his ceiling might be capped by his defensive limitations. If he can maintain a high volume of scoring, whatever team that selects him shouldn’t wind up disappointed. I think he’s a top 10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Jalen Crutcher

Crutcher didn’t have the best game, but he came up big late. Crutcher drilled the game tying three-pointer with 4 seconds left to send it into overtime. The rest of the game, however, was not as thrilling for Crutcher. He finished with 12 points on 4-14 from the field, only making threes. He also added 8 assists and 3 steals. From a scoring standpoint, Crutcher is still very raw. In this game, he had a tough time creating shots. This was partly due to his unorthodox shooting motion and partly due to Kansas’ solid defensive performance. He seems more like a rotational player right now who can get a three when needed. His passing seemed promising and he ran the point relatively efficiently. Still, he played a bit intimidated, likely due to Kansas’ reputation. I also noted that he had a tendency of dribbling too much.

On the defensive end, Crutcher struggled to contain Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett. The two Kansas guards combined for 49 points. Crutcher did log 3 steals, which could be attributed to his longer wingspan for a 6’1″ guard. He had a tough time staying with the guards after their explosive first step en route to the rim. However, that shouldn’t take much away from Crutcher, but prove how good (specifically) Dotson is off the dribble.

I currently do not have Jalen Crutcher in my top 75, so I think he would benefit from returning to school for his senior year. He would be a focal point in the offense and he can improve on his scoring repertoire. If he stays in the 2020 NBA Draft, he will likely be a UDFA and will have it much tougher to find a roster spot due to no Summer League games or G-League camps.

Devon Dotson

Dotson dominated against Dayton in what was arguably his best performance at the collegiate level. He poured in a career high 31 points on 11-16 shooting with 4 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. When watching Dotson, his ability to make tough shots jumps out at me the most. He has the most explosive first step out of any prospect in the draft this year. After he gets into the teeth of the defense, he uses his strength and athleticism to convert a tough bucket. Dotson also excelled in transition and open court situations. His head was always up when dribbling even when at full speed. His court vision is solid and his ability to read the defense is second to none. Dotson constantly got his defender off-balance, which shows that he has potential on the offensive end in the NBA.

On the defensive end, Dotson has some positive traits. As stated before, he has great awareness and basketball IQ. He was active with his hands and was able to use his ability to read the ball handler and turn it into a steal. He was not beat off the dribble much, but Dayton mostly attacked Kansas from beyond the arc, and Dotson did not do the best job of closing on an open shooter when he was around one.

One important note about Dotson is that he is not a guy who relies on his jump shot, but with his ability to get in between the defense. I don’t have a problem with this because I think his jump shot will improve just like fellow Jayhawk Devonte’ Graham’s has in the NBA. I’d prefer for him to not force threes, but attack the defense in the lane like he is most comfortable. However, his draft stock might fall in favor of guards who rely a lot on shooting, such as Tyrese Maxey or Tyrell Terry.

All in all, Dotson showed moments of brilliance in this game, especially on the offensive end. I think he’s the best in this draft class at getting his shot off whenever he wants it. If he can convert some more looks from deep, he could become a key player in an NBA offense. I would consider him in the 15-20 range, but I think he will be a late first round selection in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Udoka Azubuike

Azubuike was tough to defend throughout his entire college career, and it was no different versus Dayton. He also logged a career high in points with 29 on 12-15 from the floor. He hauled in 3 rebounds and added 4 blocks. Azubuike owned the paint on offense and defense, per usual. No one from Dayton was able to match up with Azubuike in the post, except for Toppin in some instances. Azubuike did not do much with Toppin on him in the first half, but thrived in the second. He played stronger than Toppin and was able to bully his way into some easy baskets.

His post moves, however, are not very polished. He relies only on the post hook, he does not employ a post fade, and he usually does not go for any type of fake. This might hurt him when defended by a player who’s physicality matches that of Azubuike.

Azubuike plays a similar style on the defensive end. In this game, he was very tough to beat in the post, but he was easy to draw fouls against. That is because he uses too much of his body to defend instead of moving his feet and getting himself set. He was not picked on much, as his presence is indeed intimidating for a guard driving for a layup.

The draft stock of Azubuike is a bit tougher to evaluate. With him, you know exactly what you’re getting; a traditional big man who will get buckets in the post and from a lob, be a solid presence at the rim, but will usually be in foul trouble. There’s not much more to his game that Azubuike can develop.

This is not a bad thing, however. Azubuike can come up big for a team in need of a center, because he is bigger than most players in the league currently. It just depends how he is valued in the draft process and where teams value him. There have been reports that Yoeli Childs, the big man from BYU, will rise up boards because he is a safe and sure prospect. I’d argue that Azubuike is safer and surer. Azubuike can be selected anywhere from the last few picks in the first all the way through the middle- to-late second round.