The NBA draft has come and gone and Knicks fans can take a sigh of relief. Unlike previous draft years, the Knicks actually made the right decision with their lottery pick. What I mean by that is they did not go off the board. They took the guy the fans wanted them to. The Knicks selected Dayton Power Forward, Obi Toppin, with the 8th overall pick.
What exactly does Toppin bring to the Knicks?
Obi Toppin is considered to be one of the most NBA ready prospects in this year’s draft. The Dayton star is truly an outstanding player on the offensive side of the ball. He is a true high flyer. The combination of Toppin and Mitchell Robinson in the front court will lead to a lot of high flying acrobatics around the rim.
Some of these dunks belong in the dunk contest. Toppin can jump out of the gym, but he is much more than just a dunker on offense. Toppin shot over 40% from 3 in his two seasons at Dayton and shot over 70% from the charity stripe. He can score from all levels of the court and that should translate really well to the NBA game. He also can dish the rock pretty well too. Toppin racked up a total of 126 assists in his collegiate career. Toppin will not be the primary ball handler which means he can cook down on the wing and in the low post. The combination of Robinson and Toppin near the basket will be very difficult to defend.
Like many players Toppin’s age, and any other young players on the Knicks (not named Robinson or Ntilikina), he struggles on the defensive side of the ball. The Knicks are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. With young guys like Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett, defense has been a major struggle for New York. New head coach Tom Thibodeau will have to work with Toppin to help improve his lateral quickness in order to stay with perimeter players. Hopefully Robinson’s defensive prowess can make up for Toppin’s struggles.
It will be interesting to see how Toppin fits in with other wing players like RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox. The Knicks biggest weakness coming into the draft was point guard and Tyrese Haliburton was sitting right there. He slipped heavily dropping all the way to #12 when some believed he would be off the board by the time the Knicks picked. However, bigger than the Knicks need for point guards is their need for good basketball players. Obi Toppin is a good basketball player. He is a potential all-star. Thibodeau just needs to let the young guys play. Ntilikina, Knox, Barrett, Toppin, and Robinson need to be at the top of minutes played for the Knicks. They already helped that by getting rid of Bobby Portis, so now they just need to rid themselves of Julius Randle. Maybe we see some of Iggy Brazdeikis as well this season.
The Knicks have a pretty decent young core in Robinson, Barrett, and now Toppin. Hopefully Knox and Ntilikina can still develop in quality NBA players and they still add some decent talent in free agency. The Knicks are still years away from competing, but I think for the first time in a long time, they are trending in the right direction.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)