I want Dayton’s, Obi Toppin on the Cleveland Cavaliers. He won the Wooden Award and has a chance at being the best player in this upcoming draft. Also, Dayton was one of the best teams in the country, but the best college player in the nation played for Iowa, Luka Garza.
First, lets look at both players surface level stat lines.
Toppin: 20 PTS/ 7.5 REB/ 2.2 AST/ 1.0 STL/ 1.2 BLK/ 68.8 FG%
Garza: 23.9 PTS/ 9.8 REB/ 1.2 AST/ 0.8 STL/ 1.8 BLK/ 60.2 FG%
Both men play power forward and center respectively, and they both have similar numbers. However, Garza’s stats are just better. He scores more, gets more rebounds and blocks more shots, which are the three most important stats for a big man. Toppin leads him in the other statistical categories but by negligible amounts.
Next, look at the competition each person played. Garza played against the Big Ten and Toppin played against the Atlantic Ten. Garza had better numbers in a better conference, that alone should be enough, but people still think Toppin played equal competition.
Iowa’s strength of schedule according to ‘TeamRankings’ was 10.9, while Dayton’s was only 5.7. The Hawkeyes had the 9th hardest schedule in country while Dayton had a much lower ranking of 79th, not even high enough to make the tournament.
Garza might have had stronger competition, but did he step up in those big games? Yes, he did. According to the end of season AP rankings, Garza played 11 ranked games and in those contests, he averaged 26.5 PTS/ 11.3 REB/ 1.6 BLKS. Other than blocks, Garza raised his season averages against higher competition. More than that, he scored over 30 points 4 times in B10 play, and had a season high 44 points against Michigan’s future NBA center, John Teske.
On the other hand, Toppin played 1 ranked opponent where he scored 18 points, snagged 9 rebounds, and had 3 blocks. He didn’t raise his game. Toppin played well but his stats went down. Not only are Garza’s stats better against all opponents, but he also played better on the big stage.
Lastly, the strongest argument Toppin supporters have against Garza is Iowa’s record. Iowa played a harder schedule, and lost more games; however, the Wooden Award isn’t a team honor, its for one player. Iowa doesn’t win 15 games without Garza, while Dayton would still make the tournament (if we had one) without Toppin. Voters made the wrong decision, Garza was the best of the best.
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Featured Image: SI.com