Why, then, is he still searching for a role?
In the 11 games since arriving in the Big Apple, Reddish has played only 12.5 minutes per game for the Knicks, and no more than 19:24 in a single game.
Coincidentally, that same game represents his highest point total (12) in a New York uniform, and the team’s only win in their last 10 games (a 116-114 win over the Golden State Warriors).
It also seems worth noting that Reddish is by and far the team’s leading free-throw threat, averaging 6.0 and a .957 shooting percentage from the charity stripe per 36 minutes since arriving on the Knicks.
New York ranks 24th in the league in free throw percentage (72.8%) over the last 15 games.
Take that for what you will.
But to Reddish’s credit, he’s handling it as professionally as possible, which seems notable given the murmurs of him being a poor locker room presence in Atlanta.
When asked about his inconsistent role with the Knicks on March 1st, the 22-year old (via the New York Post) simply pointed to his work ethic:
I’ve just been in the gym…I feel like the rest will handle itself. I’m not too worried about my minutes at this moment. I know what I’m capable of doing on the floor, so when that time comes I just want to be ready. I’m not stressed out over the minutes at this moment.
Reddish followed that up with a message for the New York faithful, who’ve been campaigning for an increased role for the former lottery pick:
I see it everywhere — I can’t not see it…But I try to just stay grounded. I appreciate all the love, I really, really do. But I’m just trying to be ready.
But he’s not the only youth in limbo that New York Knicks fans have been pleading to see on the hardwood.
Thibs Responds to Obi Toppin Cries on Social Media
Among the many red-button issues that New York Knicks fans have with head coach Tom Thibodeau, none is more torturing than his insistence on playing veterans over the youth.
And amidst a downslide to boot.
Because while numbers suggest that the team is better when they play, their roles seem ever-changing with the Knicks.
It’s become such a topic of discussion between the fanbase online, that he was asked about fans asking for more Toppin minutes following practice in their first week back from the All-Star break.
His response (via @NBA_NewYork on Twitter) doesn’t incite much optimism that things will change anytime soon:
It’s not necessarily just what’s best for Obi, it’s what’s best for the team. I want him to continue to improve. When we had Derrick and Alec and Quick and Obi, that group functioned really well together.
Toppin is averaging 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in just 15 minutes nightly, all up from his rookie year, but advanced statistics suggest that he could contribute more with a larger minute diet.
But will head coach Tom Thibodeau give him the opportunity?
It doesn’t seem like he’s yet taken the team’s record in their last 18 games (3-15) into account, and believes that the team can make a push for the play-in tournament or a second-straight playoff berth.
He’s isolated in that line of thinking largely, but a quote from Jenna Fischer’s Pam Beesly in The Office seems worth revisiting here:
When a child gets behind the wheel of a car and runs into a tree, you don’t blame the child; he didn’t know any better. You blame the 30-year-old woman who got in the passenger seat and said, ‘Drive, kid; I trust you.’
Tom Thibodeau is no child, by any means, but he’s doing everything the front office brought him to do in New York.
How long will the party responsible let it continue, at the cost of exiling promising Knicks youths like Cam Reddish?
The basketball powers at be may not be giving him a choice, with an injury-ridden roster taking shape down the stretch.
Grimes, Rose Out Indefinitely
Walking out of the All-Star break, not even the most pessimistic of New York Knicks fans could have avoided the looming boost that the returns of Derrick Rose and RJ Barrett would bring.
The former hasn’t played since a December 16th win over the Houston Rockets, and the former hadn’t since February 8th, until he suited up Friday against Miami.
Now they’ll have to settle for just one, with the team announcing pre-game that Rose will undergo a second procedure on the ankle that’s kept him out this season, with no timeline for recovery.
The 2011 MVP had long been considered a potential savior for the Knicks down the stretch, should the team have opted to push for a spot in the play-in tournament and playoff berth.
Some fans were upset over the news, and rightfully so, given that this implies the team won’t be pushing for that down the stretch. But that feeling would soon be overcome with more concern over a different injury.
In the first half of their loss to the Heat, whatever was remaining of New York’s season took a big hit, with rising star Quentin Grimes suffering a non-contact injury in his right knee.
The team later diagnosed this as a subluxation of the right patella, which in layman’s terms is a dislocation.
Grimes made sure to fire off a tweet of positivity following the team’s loss:
The first-year guard had been starting in place of RJ Barrett prior to the All-Star break and leads the NBA’s rookie class in three-point percentage this season, minimum of 150 attempts.