Among the many red-button issues that New York Knicks fans have with head coach Tom Thibodeau, none is more torturing than his reluctance to play the youth.
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?
Ironically, it could be his draft classmate, Immanuel Quickley, who sees a bump in the rotation first.
Knicks Making (Yet Another) Point Guard Change
It’s been fun, it’s been real, but it hasn’t been real fun; Kemba Walker’s time as a member of the New York Knicks is all but finished, with the four-time All-Star shut down for the rest of the 2021-2022 season.
The 31-year old is averaging a career-worst 11.6 points and 3.5 assists over 37 appearances this year.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first with reports:
Wojnarowski followed that report up with a second tweet, clarifying that New York and Walker will likely work towards a trade this summer, given that he’ll have just one year left on his contract:
Trust that Kemba’s tenure with the Knicks likely won’t be remembered with grace.
Perhaps that would change if Walker’s departure meant a promotion for Immanuel Quickley, who’s yet to be given an actual shot at the starting point guard job.
But similar to Obi Toppin, Thibodeau (via @IanBegley on Twitter) remained non-committal, and in favor of his veterans:
Alec Burks has been the spot-starter for New York when they’ve been without Kemba this season, whether by design or during the 10-game stretch where he was removed from the rotation altogether.
The results have been middling, fueling more angst from the fanbase.
But it seems that fate, as it so often does, has intervened.
Not even Tom Thibodeau could avoid playing Immanuel Quickley now.
Rose to Miss More Time
The former hasn’t played since a mid-December win over the Houston Rockets, and the former has not since February 8th.
Now they’ll have to settle for just one, with the team announcing that Rose will undergo a second procedure on the ankle that’s kept him out this season, with no timeline for recovery.
Now the question is less as to which of Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley will start at point guard, and more so a waiting game to see which one will close games.
Meanwhile, fans will keep campaigning for more Obi Toppin, and Tom Thibodeau will likely continue holding out.