Fans are left in anticipation of who the New York Knicks will plug in place of Obi Toppin on the depth chart following the former eighth-overall pick’s departure this offseason. Isaiah Roby, one of the Knicks’ most under-the-radar signings of last season could fill the void Toppin is leaving behind, backing up Julius Randle with breakout potential this season.
Replacing Obi Toppin’s production
Toppin, a dynamic forward who averaged 7.4 points per game for New York in 2022, will be a valuable asset to a young, rebuilding Indiana Pacers team. Toppin was an impact player during New York’s impressive first-round series win over the Cavaliers. But the former Slam Dunk Contest champion will now hone in on his skills and development in Indiana, leaving the Knicks with a new role to fill on their bench. Entering into that position will be Roby.
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How the postseason experience impacted Isaiah Roby
Roby’s $400,000 payday this past spring secured him a member of the Knicks, but because of the timing of the contract, he was not eligible to play for New York until the upcoming 2023-24 season. Regardless, Roby has hit the ground running accepting his role as backup forward to star Julius Randle entering the year.
The now 25-year-old Roby’s willingness to learn suggests he is the exact type of team-first player the New York Knicks need. Participating in summer league action for New York was the right move, yet, his most compelling moments so far took place on the bench. Regarding the first-round playoff series against the Cavaliers, Roby stated, “That was my first taste of that. We had a giant playbook. I look forward to being part of it next year.”
Despite not even touching the court, that postseason experience alone has been vital for the young big man and will add to the already high motor Roby possesses.
What can Roby bring to the Knicks as a backup forward?
At his peak in the 2021-2022 season, Roby averaged 10 points in 21 minutes shooting 44 percent from 3-point range while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. That iteration of the Thunder was a skilled young group with little to no expectations to win. Averaging nine points per game for his entire run in OKC, Roby’s production remained consistent on one of the NBA’s youngest teams showing the poise needed and delivering consistently.
Learning from one of the NBA’s best head coaches
There have been many instances of young guys losing their way in the league; following three seasons in OKC Roby was claimed by the San Antonio Spurs. Under the tutelage of the great Gregg Popovich, Roby was ecstatic to be a sponge.
Taking no time to show what he could deliver, Roby wowed the Hall of Fame head coach. Popovich stated, “He is more skilled than I was expecting and he’s a little bigger than I expected.”
The Spurs had him playing both forward and Center growing his game on both ends of the floor. Popovich went on to say, “He moves well really well for his size and he has good athleticism – coordinated athleticism. He handles himself really well.”
With the Spurs previously drafting Jeremy Sochan and now adding first-overall pick Victor Wembanyama, the depth had gotten too deep, forcing Roby out of Texas. Now, with this golden-ticket opportunity to play in Mecca, the perfect recipe for success is brewing. Roby has the city of New York behind him and his all-star teammate Julius Randle is sure to rub off on him as well.