While the Pacers paid top dollar to get Bruce Brown, they essentially got Obi Toppin for pennies on the dollar. After three potentially-filled but relatively uneventful seasons in New York, Toppin was traded to the Pacers for a 2028 and 2029 second-round pick, basically nothing.
Expectations coming into the season for Toppin were all over the place, as some projected him to flop on his new team, while others projected him to be in the Most Improved Player running, showing New York what exactly they missed out on.
Following the preseason, the verdict was still unsure on Obi, as he did have one fantastic game, but the rest were okay performances. One thing was for sure, though: Obi Toppin showed exactly what he can do for the Pacers in terms of highlights, as he busted out a between-the-legs dunk in the open court against Cleveland in the final preseason game.
So far in the season, Toppin has yet to put on an awe-inspiring performance, as his contributions have been pretty mediocre, considering the hype some people put into him before the season started.
Through the first five games of the season, Toppin has averaged 7.6 points on 51/20/80 splits and 4.4 rebounds. These are pretty middling stats when you consider his starting role and the trust Rick Carlisle seems to have in him this early.
However, it is worth noting that Toppin is putting up these stats in fewer minutes than Brown, with 21 per game. This is, of course, followed by the fact that Toppin was putting up the same, if not better, numbers than this in New York in even fewer minutes per game.
Of course, it is too early in the season to fully judge Toppin’s performance as a Pacer and label him a failed experiment. In my opinion, the trade can never be viewed as a dud, considering the small price Indiana had to pay to acquire Toppin in the first place.
However, I would be lying if I said I am satisfied with his performance so far, with some aspects of his play, particularly his defense and shooting, leaving much to be desired, with the former being why I wanted Jarace Walker to start over him before the season began.
Obi Toppin is an interesting case. While he will most likely not be the Most Improved Player lock that some had him projected as, and he will probably not fall out of the rotation as some people are saying, he still leaves a lot to be desired so far.
Only time will tell how the trade looks in the future but for now, while it wasn’t exactly a failed trade, it’s not exactly looking like a “fleece” either.
One thing’s for sure: The guy knows how to make a highlight play.
Final Grade: C (Hasn’t done much in five games; MIP might be a reach)