Knicks’ Obi Toppin looking to improve defense, jump shot

Obi Toppin was relaxed Wednesday, leaning again in his chair and joking with reporters. He’s heading into his third NBA season with the Knicks and his confidence is palpable. Toppin’s manufacturing skyrocketed on the finish of final season, when he averaged a 20 factors over his last 10 video games, and he’s not too apprehensive about what groups have been resting gamers or tanking on the time.

“It helped me rather a lot,” Toppin stated. “I really feel like I used to be all the time in a position to do stuff like that. I simply really feel like coming off of these final video games of the season, it helped me rather a lot going into the summer season, kinda confirmed me what I can do.”

The Knicks wish to see Toppin, a top-10 decide in 2020, take the subsequent steps this season, and meaning attending to the subsequent stage defensively and bettering his outdoors shot so his capturing share ticks up a number of factors. Accordingly, that’s what the Dayton product spent the summer season doing.

Although Toppin spent most of his offseason in New York, working on the Knicks’ follow facility in Tarrytown, he additionally spent a month in Los Angeles, figuring out with a bunch that included Paul George, Karl-Anthony Cities and Coby White at Proactive Sports activities Efficiency, a run put collectively by former UCLA standout Don MacLean.

Obi Toppin
Obi Toppin
Jason Szenes

Provided that protection — notably the flexibility to protect all 5 positions — isn’t the best factor to work on with out competitors, that point was particularly useful.

“Guarding guards like Jalen [Brunson], as an example, in pickup video games right here or guarding guards like Coby White in L.A. … helped me rather a lot,” Toppin stated. “I really feel like even when I can’t get down low, I’ve to discover a method to keep in entrance of them, nonetheless contest their pictures and make it onerous for them to do issues. I really feel like I labored on that this summer season and I’m rather a lot higher now.”

“Defensively, I believe he can get there,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau stated. “The NBA sport’s rather a lot totally different than a university sport. You gotta not solely learn the way the sport’s totally different, you gotta study all of the personnel, you gotta study the schemes, you gotta study all these issues in order that it turns into instinctive to you.”

If Toppin turns into extra snug guarding a number of positions, it might unlock a slew of potentialities each for him and for the Knicks. That might, maybe, embrace an even bigger lineup, with Toppin alongside Julius Randle. Thibodeau, nonetheless, didn’t sound enthused with that mixture on Wednesday, when he famous that the numbers confirmed it “wasn’t very efficient” up to now.

“However you all the time wish to get a take a look at issues, notably within the preseason,” Thibodeau stated. “And so we’ll check out it there.”


Quentin Grimes was noticed in a strolling boot throughout follow. He’s thought of day-to-day with a sore left foot.

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