Stop the count!! The Knicks are undeafeated in the new season! The Knicks played a basketball game last night and boy was it ugly. They matched up against the Detroit Pistons and both teams looked like they have not played in 9 months. It was a very sloppy contest from start to finish. Neither team could buy a three early in the contest. There was sloppy passing, poor shooting, and not a lot of chemistry for either squad. However, for us Knicks fans, we got our first look at Obi Toppin, and boy did he look good.
We all knew coming into this season that Toppin could score the basketball. He was constantly in attack mode last night and almost all of his points came from inside the paint. He was able to score with his back to the basket, put his defender in a spinner with his post moves, and demonstrated his high flying ability.
One area that he struggled in was his 3-point shooting. To be fair, the entire Knicks team struggled from beyond the arc. The entire team shot 5-23 from deep. 3-point shooting was one of the biggest areas of need for the Knicks and Toppin did not add to it last night. He did shoot about 40% from deep while at Dayton, but that was on 2-3 attempts per game. However, we know that is not really Toppin’s game. The Knicks need to let him cook in the mid range and below and find him in transition.
Just like we knew Toppin can score as well as anyone, we knew his defense was going to take some work. Toppin has said he is very excited to play for Tom Thibodeau as he is known to be a defensive minded coach. The Knicks as a whole have struggled immensely on defense the past few seasons, but they looked like a different team last night. The Knicks had their hands in the passing lanes all night long and forced 22 turnovers. They were all over the court, blocked a lot of shots, and held the Pistons to 32% shooting. As expected, Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson led the way on the defensive end of the court. Noel got the start while Robinson came off the bench, but both were impressive defensively.
I loved watching the second unit of Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson. They are young, exciting, and really fun to watch. The first unit just seems boring apart from RJ Barrett and Nerlens Noel. Elfrid Payton is really annoying, I hate watching Julius Randle play, and Alec Burks is just meh. Give me the young guns all day long. The future of the franchise lies in their hands, not in the hands of guys like Randle and Payton. As one of those young guys, Obi Toppin really stood out during his time on the floor. I cannot wait for the regular season to start and see him really take off.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)