While the New York Knicks lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, it’s tough to view the season any other way than a success.
With a young core to build around, anchored by the Most Improved Player Julius Randle, the future for the Knicks looks very bright.
In fact, two of the youngsters on the roster, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, were given the opportunity to practice against the United States’ Olympic roster, and, as a result, will be able to learn a lot about growing as a player and soak up a ton of knowledge in the process.
Toppin in particular is very excited to learn from the likes of Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday and the plethora of coaches.
Toppin Says He’ll Be a “Sponge”
On a Zoom Call, via the New York Post, Toppin says that he is coming in to learn as much as he possibly can from the coaches and players who are heading to Tokyo for the Olympics.
“The message, [the coaches] told me coming here is just be a sponge,’’ Toppin said according to the Post. “There’s great coaches and players out here and just get better and develop my game. I’m working really hard in this offseason to be better for my second season coming up. It’s going be a lot different than the first season.’’
Toppin didn’t get as much playing time as you’d expect from a top pick last season, mainly because he was positioned behind Randle in the lineup. It’s hard to crack consistent minutes when the person ahead of you is having the type of season that he had.
The young forward is already considered to be one of the most athletic players in the league, so if he can add just a few more moves to his arsenal, he can be a very dangerous threat off the bench.
As a rookie, Toppin only averaged 11 minutes a game, but he still feels grateful for his invite to help the USA Tokyo roster prepare.
“It’s amazing,’’ said Toppin. “I‘m not going to say I had the best rookie year. But for me to have the opportunity to come out here and be part of USA and help prepare the Olympic guys for their time in Tokyo, to have that opportunity is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.’’
Big Improvements in Year 2?
Rookies often do make a big leap in their game in their second year in the league, and it seems like Toppin could be poised to do just that.
“It’s the best players in the world on this Olympic team,” he said. “Having the opportunity to learn under the coaches here and playing with these players, I’m learning a lot and I’m going to translate it into my game for the upcoming season.’’
Playing with the best the NBA has to offer makes a big difference for young players, and Toppin says he’ll translate all of this knowledge into his game next season.
The biggest issue in his way will be getting consistent minutes, but if the improvements are big enough, the team will have no choice but to play him more.