Though we may only be two games into the 2022-23 preseason, the New York Knicks have already been seen executing mid-season, highlight-reel plays.
So far, the ball club boasts an undefeated record of 2-0, with their most recent victory coming in an October 7 home tilt against their conference rivals, the Indiana Pacers, with the final score reading 131-114.
During the contest, Knicks fans witnessed perhaps one of the best in-game dunks in recent memory when big man Obi Toppin pulled off a between-the-legs slam on a breakaway play that was sparked by him blocking the shot attempt of Kendall Brown late in the third period.
A jaw-dropping play executed by the 24-year-old, talk about the slam has quickly made its way across social media platforms and media outlets, and, just recently, one Knicks player couldn’t help but label it as one of the top moments he’s witnessed during his tenure in New York.
At an October 9 open practice held at Columbia University, Toppin asked what Immanuel Quickley’s “favorite Garden moment” was, and the third-year guard gave some serious love to his teammate’s recent play.
“My favorite Garden moment is when you went in between the legs against the [Indiana] Pacers last night.”
Quickley’s response was subsequently met with loud applause by the fans in attendance at the practice.
Toppin Has Looked Great in Preseason
Through two preseason games played, there may not be a player that has stood out from the rest of the pack more than Obi Toppin.
Logging 21 minutes per contest, the big man finds himself boasting tremendous averages of 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and a block on a highly efficient 60.8% shooting from the field and 36.3% shooting from deep.
Now, this type of production should certainly not come as any surprise for Knicks fans, as Toppin has proven that he’s capable of playing a stellar brand of basketball when given an increased role and minutes throughout his time in the association.
During his career in New York, when receiving 20-29 minutes the big man has averaged 12.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists on 51.6% shooting from the floor and, in games where he’s started, he has posted stellar averages of 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and just shy of a block on 57% shooting from the floor and 43.6% shooting from deep.
As he now enters year three, many are hoping to see Toppin’s role within the team’s scheme increase which, as we’ve seen from the numbers and through the eye test, has only translated into improved productivity for the big man.
While it may just be the preseason, through their first two games played the Knicks big man seems to be making a strong case to earn more minutes in Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.
Former Knicks Star Still Feels Love From New York
Though he may have only played 35 total games as a member of the Knicks, Jeremy Lin recently told Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School in an October 7 episode that, 11 years since his departure, he still feels the love from New York.
“It really hit home when Covid in 2020 was really hurting New York City and, at that time, New York was the hot spot for Covid and it was shutting down and was one of the lowest moments in recent history for the city. And the Knicks decided to do Linsanity week,” Lin told Macri.
“I mean, they could have aired [Patrick] Ewing, or Clyde [Frazier] or whoever. They could have aired a ton of different amazing players and they chose to go with Linsanity week. At that point I knew, like, wow, New York just… they still have my back.”
During his stint with the Knickerbockers during the 2011-12 campaign, Lin posted impressive averages of 14.6 points, 6.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals and, during the 26-game period best known as “Linsanity” he put up 18.5 points, 7.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 steals a night.
Despite having his season cut short due to injury on March 24, the point guard arguably single-handedly saved the Knicks’ campaign, as they wound up finishing the year off in the seventh seed out in the Eastern Conference standings and took part in their second playoff appearance in eight years.
That offseason, Lin landed a new deal with the Houston Rockets, agreeing to a three-year, $25 million contract, thus bringing an end to his career with the Knicks.
He would go on to play for six other teams from that point on, posting averages of 12.0 points, 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and a steal per game, and even won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19.
And while he found some success in each of his following stops, none of which ever reached the heights that were seen during his legendary, albeit short-lived stint with the Knicks.