Could Knicks trade for struggling Pacers sharp-shooter?

chris duarte, knicks
Mar 25, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte (3) shoots against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks face a bustling offseason as they aim to secure another superstar to accompany Jalen Brunson. There’s a distinct possibility they might trade Julius Randle, who consistently underperforms during the crucial postseason when the team relies on him the most.

However, the Knicks could enhance their overall shooting prowess and facilitate more spacing by introducing some smaller additions to their roster.

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Should the Knicks move Obi Toppin?

One argument worth considering is the potential trade of Obi Toppin, a player whose strength lies in transitioning but who has displayed significant inconsistency on both ends of the court throughout his initial three professional seasons.

While Toppin might continue to refine his game and enhance his shooting statistics, one could argue that the Knicks might benefit from trading him for a player who more effectively aligns with their style.

In 2022, Toppin achieved a field goal percentage of .446 and a three-point percentage of .344. Averaging 7.4 points per game over 15.7 minutes, he elevated his free-throw percentage to .809. Toppin experienced instances of exceptional performance, demonstrating his prowess from the three-point range and his dexterity around the hoop.

However, Toppin’s defensive skills leave much to be desired. Some suggest that the Knicks should consider trading Toppin for a player like Chris Duarte from Indiana, who was previously of interest to the Knicks.

Indeed, a recent report indicated that Duarte was a sought-after target at the trade deadline, with potential discussions involving Toppin and a swap of first-round picks.

Duarte, now 25, had a rather disappointing 2022 season. Averaging only 7.9 points across 19.5 minutes per game, he achieved a mediocre .369 field goal percentage and a .316 three-point percentage. While his free throw percentage of 85% is unquestionably impressive, Duarte has ample room for improvement, particularly following a satisfactory rookie season.

In his inaugural NBA season, Duarte averaged 13.1 points across 28 minutes, shooting .432 from the field and .369 from three-point range.

Recognized as both a shooting guard and a small forward, the Knicks could potentially utilize Duarte more effectively to create spacing on the floor. He was a formidable shooter during his tenure at Oregon and was heavily linked to the Knicks in mock drafts.

Duarte’s progression was hampered by a few injuries in 2022, which means the Knicks could be in a position to acquire him at a bargain following a slump in performance, with the intention of facilitating his further development.

Duarte has demonstrated his worth as a solid on-ball defender, offering off-the-bench value for New York. While Toppin may be traded as part of a more significant deal, the Knicks’ need for superior shooting could be met by Duarte’s considerable potential in this area.