Knicks Taking Cautious Approach to Key Player’s Health: Report

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks

Getty Julius Randle and Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks leave the court after the first half of a preseason game against the Indiana Pacers.

With the preseason officially in the rearview, the New York Knicks can now start to focus all their attention on the upcoming 2022-23 campaign and, more specifically, their season tip-off against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 19.

As this shift comes underway, the team’s decision-makers will start to become a bit more strategic and diplomatic with their approach and, in turn, pay close attention to their core rotational players with the hope of having them enter the upcoming 82-game stretch at full strength.

Unfortunately, however, with just days separating now and game number one in Memphis, third-year big Obi Toppin finds his status for the road tilt to be “up in the air,” as Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported on October 16 that he remained sidelined during Sunday’s practice.

During the Knicks’ preseason finale on October 14, Toppin rolled his ankle midway through the fourth quarter and, as a result, sat out the rest of the contest. Though Braziller did not specify what ailment held Toppin out of practice, one could infer that it may have something to do with the injury sustained against the Wizards.

Though he did note in his report that head coach Tom Thibodeau is optimistic when it comes to the power forward’s status moving forward, until further notice he’s likely to be labeled as questionable heading into their matchup against the Grizzlies.

Toppin Pulled Off Teammate’s ‘Favorite Garden Moment’

This preseason, Obi Toppin went on to execute one of the most awe-inspiring plays in recent memory, as he threw down a between-the-legs slam during New York’s October 7 game against the Indiana Pacers that was sparked by him blocking the shot attempt of Kendall Brown late in the third period.

A few days later, at an October 9 open practice held at Columbia University, Toppin asked teammate Immanuel Quickley what his “favorite Garden moment” was, and the third-year guard gave some serious love to the big’s recent acrobatic jam.

“My favorite Garden moment is when you went in between the legs against the [Indiana] Pacers last night.”

Outside of his tremendous highlight reel play, Toppin wound up having an overall tremendous performance against the Pacers, finishing with a stat-line of 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 71.4% shooting from the floor and 57.1% shooting from deep.

For the preseason as a whole, the 24-year-old finished with averages of 11.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and just shy of a block on 53.8% shooting from the floor.

Randle Sounds Off on Knicks Coach

Despite having just endured their 17th losing season since the turn of the century in 2021-22, big man Julius Randle still seems to have plenty of faith in the Knicks and, specifically, his coach.

During New York’s post-game media session on October 13, the former All-Star discussed his feelings about Tom Thibodeau and his system, stating that he still has trust in his head coach.

“I’ve just bought into what coach is doing, how he’s trying to play,” Randle said during New York’s post-game presser via the New York Post.

“I’m just trying to be a leader and establish pace of play, unselfishness for our team, because I feel like we’re at our best when we play like that. … It kind of happens naturally. If the shot is there, take it. [If not], drive the ball, try to get to the rim. If it’s not there, we got shooters everywhere.”

During the preseason, the Knicks lost just one game while Julius Randle performed rather well within Thibodeau’s system, finishing with solid per-game averages of 13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and just shy of a steal.

Read More