Coming off the most successful New York Knicks season in the past several years, the future looks very bright for the team.
Although things didn’t go according to plan as the team bowed out to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, there’s enough young talent on the roster to keep fans excited for the future.
One of these young players is forward Obi Toppin, who just wrapped up his rookie season and showed great promise during it, albeit just flashes. Something that became abundantly clear over the season was his athleticism is already among the best in the league, but he will need to develop other parts of his game if he wants to become a star.
Another thing working against him is the fact that he’s behind All-Star forward Julius Randle in the depth chart, so he might not be able to get as many minutes as he might somewhere else.
What can help him earn more minutes is rounding out his game, something former Knicks forward Kenny Walker says he will have to do.
Toppin’s Future is Bright
According to Walker, the Knicks’ top draft pick in 1986, it’ll take a few years before Toppin can fully reach his potential.
“My advice to him is continue to work on your game,” he told the New York Post. “A mid-major, it takes a couple of years to kick in and show what he could do. He needs to be on the court more.’’
Toppin went to college at Dayton, which means he didn’t necessarily face the same level of competition he would have if he had went to somewhere like Kentucky or Duke.
Walker also believes playing the same position as Randle could’ve slowed his development down a little bit.
“Julius having the year he had took some minutes away from Obi,” Walker said to the Post. “I think Tom Thibodeau being the veteran coach, defensive-minded, he wanted to build a culture off winning.”
Being a young player and stuck on the bench isn’t a good combination, especially when you are an older rookie coming into the league. At 23 years old, Toppin is one of the older players in his draft class. Walker does have some advice for that as well.
“My advice to him would be don’t get discouraged,” he said. “This is the NBA. You got to prove yourself in this league. Nobody cares about what you did in college, even though he was player of the year. This is no time to hang your head.’’
What’s Next For Toppin?
The main thing for Toppin will be finding out how to get more minutes. Although he was the 8th pick in the draft, he only managed 11 minutes per game, which isn’t exactly common for players selected in that area.
Detroit Pistons draft pick Killian Hayes, selected 7th, and Washington Wizards forward Deni Avidja, selected 9th, played 25.8 and 23.3 minutes per game respectively.
Even fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley, selected 25th, received more minutes than Toppin and landed on the All-Rookie team as a result. It’s clear that Toppin has the potential to be greater, but he’ll need to find out how to get more consistent playing time to prove it.
Working on his shot to go along with his dynamite dunks will certainly go a long way.