“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Obi Toppin”...if it’s early April and the end of the NBA regular season.
Toppin, the eighth pick in the 2020 draft, had another confusing season in New York. Aside from the season's last four games, he saw around 14.2 minutes per game.
It is not a secret why Toppin doesn't see much action. He is behind now two-time all-star Julius Randle who played 35.5 minutes per game in 77 games. Coach Tom Thibodeau also likes to keep Randle at power forward. When Randle was on the court this season, he played power forward 96 percent of the time compared to just four percent at the center position. This has limited the athletic big who played 100 percent of his minutes at power forward. It could’ve been interesting to see the Knicks experiment more with Randle and Toppin out there together but that's for another time.
Taking advantage of time (2021-22):
Dating back to last season, the Knicks were out of the playoff and play-in picture towards the end of the season. After spending most of the season looking over his shoulder wondering when he’d get subbed out, Toppin was finally given more time. In the final five games, he’d play 31, 35, 43, 38, and 40 minutes. The Knicks went 3-2 in those games.
Focusing on the final two games, he’d score 35 and 42 points with six three-pointers in each game on efficient shooting. It was the talent and potential Knicks fans were hoping to see from the 2020 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year.
Relive Toppin’s 35 and 42-point performances below:
Time is of the essence (2022-23):
Once again, Obi Toppin took advantage of more playing time to end the season. He would find himself on the court for 33, 43, 27, and 37 minutes in the final four games.
Scoring 21 points on 9-15 shooting and 3-8 from three, Toppin played freely and was efficient in a 118-109 win over the Washington Wizards.
He followed that up by scoring 32 points in a 138-129 win over the Indiana Pacers. This performance was again a nice indicator of the talent Toppin possesses. He shot 11-18 from the field, 5-12 from three, and 5-5 from the foul line. Most importantly, the Knicks forward was a +18 in the game and made winning plays.
A bad loss to the New Orleans Pelicans saw him only score 10 points in 27 minutes.
Following that performance, Toppin closed the season in style.
Playing 37 minutes, he would score 34 points on 13/23 shooting with five three-pointers. Toppin was also a +8 in the game despite the loss.
It’s been a nice reminder of the talent Toppin has and what he can potentially do with more time and freedom. I don’t think we will all of a sudden see him play 30+ minutes in the playoffs but this should give him confidence for the 15-20 minutes he comes in. Toppin's best opportunity to play is likely elsewhere and it would be exciting and fitting to see him get a real chance. For now, hopefully, the Knicks can take positives from his performances and we can see what he’s got on the big stage.
Obi Toppin finishes his third NBA season with averages of 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game in 67 games.
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