If the last name sounds familiar to you, it should. Jacob Toppin, Obi Toppin’s younger brother has been hooping for the Westchester Knicks of the G-League through nine games with the team so far. After going undrafted in June, Toppin earned a two-way contract through his hard work, albeit not participating during their Summer League play due to a minor injury. Since then he has done nothing but continue to excel. His numbers are there: 15.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game are nothing to overlook. During the team’s November 25th meeting versus the Greensboro Swarm, Toppin put up 30 points, along with eight rebounds and four assists. On November 10th, versus the Raptors 905, Toppin was outstanding, pouring in 37 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
In speaking with reporter’s last week, Toppin earned high praise from Coach Thibodeau: “I like him a lot . . . I like the way he works. He’s done a good job. I think just for him, the challenge will be developing consistency with his shot. But he’s a very good all-around player.”
The question remains, is it time for the Knicks to give the younger brother Toppin a call and a chance in the bigs? One month ago, the obvious answer was a definite no. But what do they have to lose at this point? With Josh Hart openly expressing his frustrations over his role within the offense, perhaps the window could be opening. If the Knicks were to consider moving Hart for a true power forward to backup Randle and utilize Donte DiVincenzo at the two-guard spot more, the scenario could present an opportunity for Toppin to step in to provide the Knicks with a more explosive athlete at the backup small forward spot and help spread the floor in transition more for Immanuel Quickley and DiVincenzo.
Toppin already possesses similar if not more explosiveness than his brother Obi, and although his shot has room for improvement, his role wouldn’t be reliant on a rhythm that Hart has expressed his displeasure over. Let Toppin run the floor with Quickley at the helm, and DiVincenzo on the wing, and instantly the Knicks have a more explosive offense, without even taking into consideration who the Knicks could replace Hart with to backup Randle.
The Knicks, who are fifth in the East and have an uphill battle in their schedule this month with the upcoming second round of the Play-In Tournament, what to they have to lose? This is an experiment they could even run with before pulling a trigger on a Hart deal to ensure they have the player at the three-spot that fits their offense in a superb manner. Perhaps they have a diamond in the rough just waiting to get polished to shine.