Leon Rose and this New York Knicks front office have started off their regime in the Big Apple with near-perfect hits across two different NBA Drafts, or so it seems thus far.
But as exciting as it’s been watching new arrivals Deuce McBride and Quentin Grimes, second-year forward Obi Toppin is stealing the show as of late.
The eighth overall pick in last year’s draft, he was a late bloomer his rookie season in New York, not truly “finding his legs” until the end of the regular season and into the first-round of the playoffs.
His seemingly timid approach, combined with head coach Tom Thibodeau’s reluctance to lengthen his leash, lead some fans to believe that Toppin may not have a future in New York.
It looks like he’s set out on a mission to prove those doubters wrong this season, and he’s already put his stamp on the Las Vegas Summer League.
Toppin scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds in their most recent bout, a loss to number one overall pick Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons.
As much as a perfect record in the Summer League appealed to Knicks fans, Toppin highlights of this caliber serve as a premium consolation prize.
And it’s got all of the NBA, not just New York Knicks fans, actively talking about the 23-year old forward.
Wasserman: Toppin Showing ‘New Comfort Level’
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, one of their resident draft experts, took to Twitter on Saturday morning to show some love to Obi Toppin.
But it was one particular highlight that caught his eye, a pull-up jumper amidst nearly three defenders, in the fourth quarter:
As Wasserman notes, it’s possible that Toppin’s never attempted such a shot since arriving in the NBA.
And regardless of whether or not this is just Summer League, and they’re playing in exhibition, fans are more than happy to see him opening up on offense.
Last season, Obi Toppin averaged just 4.1 points and 11 minutes per game.
Whether tape like this will help him see a bump in those numbers is still unclear, but it’s certainly a promising sign for the future of the New York Knicks.
Toppin Excited to Play with Kemba
Obi Toppin was asked (via the New York Post) about newly arrived point guard and four-time All-Star Kemba Walker on Thursday, and he relayed an excitement to play alongside a fellow New York native:
Having Kemba come to the team is amazing. Great player. I’ve watched him as long as he’s been playing since he left UConn. Having an opportunity to play with him is going to be amazing.
The Knicks signed the 31-year old to a two-year deal worth $18-million after he secured a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this month.
And similar to rookie Miles McBride, Toppin’s studied a lot of Walker’s tape, despite their disparity positionally:
It’s Kemba Walker. He’s an amazing player, amazing point guard. I’ve watched a lot of his film and highlights. I’m a big fan of his.
But his optimism doesn’t stop there, no, the second-year forward has high expectations for New York’s new-look offense next season:
We have so many different weapons. We have him who can score, Derrick [Rose] who can score, Jules [Julius Randle], RJ [Barrett], Quick [Immanuel Quickley]. So many different people who can put the ball in the hoop. At the same time, our main focus is defense. Whatever we do on the defensive side will determine our offense.
The Knicks were the worst offensive team in last season’s playoffs, scoring an average of just 97 points per game in their first-round series loss to Atlanta.
With Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker now in the mix, those woes should slowly but surely become a thing of the past.
Perhaps Obi Toppin will play a part in those anticipated improvements, too.