The New York Knicks held no selections heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft. Some had speculated that the Knicks would trade their high-flying, reserve forward Obi Toppin for a pick, perhaps a second-rounder. After the festivities concluded, rather than getting rid of one Toppin, New York added another.
Late last night, they signed his brother Jacob Toppin (Kentucky) and Jaylen Martin (Overtime Elite) to two-way contracts. Let’s met them!
Much like his older brother Obi, Jacob Toppin can catch some air. The 6’9” Ossining, NY native switched from Rhode Island to the University of Kentucky ahead of the 2020-21 season and spent three years as a Wildcat. Last season, his career-best, Jacob averaged 12 points and almost seven boards per game in just over 31 minutes per game. He shot 46% from the floor, but only 31% from deep, and needs to pack a little more muscle on his 195-pound frame.
Last night, the Knicks agreed to terms on a two-way contract with Jacob Toppin, Obi's younger brother!— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) June 23, 2023
Toppin averaged 8.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG on 54% TS over three seasons at Kentucky.
Welcome to New York, Jacob! pic.twitter.com/C4CDvAcQtU
His best game was probably the December 31, 2022 win over Louisville, in which he logged 24 points and seven rebounds on 15 shot attempts (almost all two-pointers).
News broke this week (Athletic, paywalled) about his brother Obi’s frustration about his diminished playing time in year three, and his contract extension is becoming a topic of conversation. The elder Toppin’s departure from the team seemed imminent before last night’s draft, and there’s still time for him to be moved before the season’s start.
Was Jacob signed to appease Obi? Don’t be so quick to call him “Thanasis” (the brother kept around to curry favor from Giannis Antetokounmpo). There’s talent here and with refinement, he’ll at least be a fun watch on the G-League club.
No word on if the Knicks plan to sign Papa Toppin, aka Dunkers Delight.
Jaylen Martin (F, 6’6”, 219 lb.) averaged 14 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game last season for the Overtime Elite. Notably, the 19-year old wing achieved double-digit scoring eight times. His best game of the year was a 27-point, 14-rebound win over the Falcons, which helped him to earn the title of OTE Player of the Week. Additionally, he achieved his highest number of three-pointers in a single game, sinking four shots from beyond the arc during his 27-point display.
He was runner up for the Overtime Elite’s Most Improved Player honors and had a nice run in the semis:
Jaylen Martin in the semi finals of the OTE Playoffs:— Teg (@IQfor3) June 23, 2023
38% from 3 on nearly 10 attempts per game, definitely his best 3 game stretch at OTE pic.twitter.com/GvpsoDvqxx
Martin has a connection to the Knicks, as his high school coach was Knick legend, Charlie Ward.
Expect to see some spirited play in the upcoming Summer League in Las Vegas. Knicks’ Sophomore Trevor Keels and recent signee Duane Washington Jr are also on two-way deals, and they will likely find themselves in competion with Jacob and Jaylen for final roster spots.
Welcome J & J!