Obi Toppin’s leap forward has been huge Knicks boost: ‘Energy all day’

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Obi Toppin made eye contact and raised his right hand as he ran towards the basket, and teammate Emmanuel Quickley took him with a ruttling from midcourt to activate the Gardens crowd in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s win against the Lakers. A perfect lobe fed to the dunk.

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As Toppin’s minutes grew in his second season with the Knicks, so did those invigorating moments. The team’s 2020 lottery pick’s minutes through 10-8 starts are up to 15.3 per game, and are awarded 8.1 points per appearance – almost double last year’s output of 4.1 points per game.

“I’m going to the game knowing I’ve got to bring a spark or whatever I have to do is basically to bring excitement and energy to the team,” Topin said after practice in Tarrytown on Wednesday. have to do.” “I feel like when I’m on the floor and I’m running hard on the floor, helping other people take shots or getting buckets easy in transition, I feel like it’s our team’s goal. Brings up the feeling.

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“Not just me, but like when people are doing it, playing hustle, diving on the floor, getting 50-50 balls and doing things that get the team excited, I Looks like those little plays keep our team moving forward.”

Obie Toppin dunks the ball during the Knicks’ win over the Lakers on Tuesday.
NY Post: Charles Weinzelberg

Tom Thibodeau isn’t shy about using his second unit—usually including some combination of Quickley, Derrick Rose, and Alec Burkes—in the late game, especially if starters are having an aggressively close night.

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With centers Mitchell Robinson (concussion) and Taj Gibson (groin) sidelined against the Lakers, 6-foot-9 Toppin logged 22 minutes, often in a short alignment with power forward Julius Randall.

“There are some real positives in this. And I think last year was obviously not that good because I don’t think Obi was the player he is today,” Thibodeau said. “And that is a good sign. In some ways, we’re much better off aggressively. And then in some ways, we lose some of the rim protection. But I think Obi is rising on defense as well.”

The Knicks picked him out of Dayton with an eighth-overall pick in the 2020 draft, with Toppin earning only 11 minutes per game in 62 appearances off the bench as a rookie.

“I’m not going to say I got frustrated, just because I knew my time would get there,” said the Brooklyn native. “I never show too much emotion. I take it out on the court. …if I’m upset about something, run to the floor and take a easy dunk or something, it’ll make me feel better.

Knicks
Obie Toppin defends Carmelo Anthony.
USA TODAY SPORTS

“But I’ve never really shown emotion, like, I’m always the same guy. I have a lot of joy, a lot of enthusiasm for this sport, and I love playing in New York.”

New York fans have also clearly taken to Toppin’s, often chanting his first name after one of his dunks.

“It’s energy. He plays with energy all day,” Thibodeau said. “Every time he hits the floor, there’s energy. It’s a big part of this league, and it’s a talent.

“Quick is the same way. Those two guys give us a big spark. Sometimes it’s not always right, but the energy you can count on in every game.”

Toppin says he feels the same way about MSG’s crowd, especially after their rookie season was spent playing past empty or mostly empty arenas due to COVID-19.

“Sure, this is New York. We have the best fan base in the world,” Toppin said. , and shout them out, it’s also giving us energy.”

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