Knicks Forward Talks Up Offseason Workouts With Former MIP Winner

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks

Getty Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks grabs the rebound against the Phoenix Suns.

On September 26, the New York Knicks took part in NBA media day, giving many of the team’s players and staff their first opportunity to address the media since the end of last season.

For the vast majority of individuals who took part in the festivities, a major focus seemed to be on the improvements they believe they made during the summer and how their hard work could end up helping both themselves as well as the club as a whole during the upcoming 2022-23 campaign.

Obi Toppin, in particular, highlighted his offseason workouts and training regimen and even mentioned that, when he was out on the west coast, he spent time with former NBA power forward, Don MacLean.

“I worked on everything. Three-pointers, posts, defense. Literally, anything I could work on,” Toppin said. “I was working out in LA with a guy named Don MacLean. I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with him, but he used to play and he’s a great coach.”

MacLean was drafted back in the 1992 NBA Draft, going 19th overall, and played nine seasons.

His career may not have been all that illustrious, boasting averages of 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, but the former UCLA standout did manage to snag the league’s Most Improved Player award back during his sophomore season in 1993-94, putting up impressive averages of 18.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game on 50.2% shooting from the floor.


Toppin Needs More Minutes to Shine

Though perhaps not the sexiest of names, MacLean had a similar build and offensive-minded play style to Toppin during his playing days and, with his Most Improved Player honors, has a proven track record of upping his production at the next level which, in turn, could wind up benefiting the former eighth overall pick in year three.

That said, even without any major improvements, throughout his short stint with the Knicks the big man has already proven to be an exceptional talent, especially when given a bigger role and more minutes within the rotation.

Throughout his three-year tenure in the association, Toppin has not been able to come across consistent playing time because the franchise has committed itself to Julius Randle as their starting power forward and that their games do not compliment one another, which has made playing the two together a rare sight within Tom Thibodeau’s lineup.

As a result, the 24-year-old boasts somewhat underwhelming averages of 6.7 points and 3 rebounds for his career whilst seeing just 14.3 minutes a night.

However, when given increased opportunities in the rotation, Toppin has managed to up his level of play in big ways, especially when found in the starting lineup.

The former lottery pick has been truly astonishing when found within New York’s starting five, as he holds 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 in such a role.

Now, of course, there are still several aspects of Toppin’s game that could use for some improvement, with his post-up moves and defensive abilities being two areas that should be emphasized and, according to the big man himself, were worked on this summer.

However, with what he’s shown during his time with the Knicks, it appears that the main thing that could help the forward break out in year three is more time spent on the floor.


Knicks President Sounds Off on Barrett

In a September 23 interview on MSG Network with analyst Alan HahnNew York Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Leon Rose, discussed the lofty four-year, $120 million extension shelled out to RJ Barrett this summer, stating that the signing should send a message to the fourth-year wing that he is a key part of their organization moving forward.

“The message that it sends is RJ, you’re a centerpiece of the New York Knicks. You are a key piece to our future and to our success. He is a key piece to our core,” Rose said.

Rose would continue by citing the fact that the numbers Barrett has put up at his age are only comparable to some of the game’s most elite talents.

“I mean, RJ’s 22 years old and, you know, he’s continually gotten better each season, he’s a two-way player, and, you know, his numbers are in the company of elite.

“His numbers are in the company of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Kevin Durant. They’re the only other four players that by the age of 22, scored 3,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and I believe it was 300 three-point shots.”

Barrett is coming off of a 2021-22 campaign where he posted career-high averages in numerous statistical categories, finishing with 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.

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