Knicks failing to maximize Obi Toppin despite electric performance

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks
Jan 22, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) dribbles the ball past Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) in the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks backup forward Obi Toppin played a very solid game on Sunday against the Raptors, despite the team losing its fourth consecutive game.

Toppin had 14 points and shot 5-7 from the field and 4-5 from three-point range in the loss, an incredibly efficient night from a guy who has been a minimal contributor for a majority of the season.

However, his performance is not the story of the night. Rather it is the fact that in spite of the incredible efficiency, Toppin played just over 10 minutes in the game and only 12 seconds more than Miles McBride, who saw the floor the least on Friday.

Toppin also played just three minutes in the entire second half, and given what his performance was shaping up to be, that number is inexplicable, and Sunday’s result will show that.

Obi Toppin should have played more minutes for the Knicks on Sunday

Prior to Sunday’s game, Toppin had logged in three scoreless outings in his previous five games and understandably so, was averaging just 12.4 minutes per game in that span.

He was not providing much on either end of the floor and rarely had many opportunities to provide much of an impact.

However, playing just 10 minutes in a game in which he was easily the Knicks’ best bench scorer of the night is a head-scratcher.

The Knicks were already playing this game incredibly undermanned. Immanuel Quickley did not play with a sore knee, and Mitchell Robinson is out for at least the next three weeks with a thumb injury.

Toppin was hustling on both sides of the floor and seemed to be virtually the only player off the bench that provided a spark for a Knicks team that is desperately searching for one.

With Robinson out, the Knicks could have also tried lineups that had Julius Randle and Toppin man the frontcourt to hasten the offense.

Therefore, this would have been the perfect opportunity for Toppin to get back into rhythm and also help the Knicks snap their skid. Instead, odd coaching patterns by head coach Tom Thibodeau caused Toppin to continue to see the floor even less than he has in other games.

Those patterns have not resulted in winning either, as the Knicks have lost four consecutive games and are trending in the complete opposite direction than they had the previous two weeks.

You would think a solid performance would promptly earn that person more playing time, but for Toppin, that has not been the case.

Evidently so, Toppin still has to do more to regain the trust of his head coach. Unless the Knicks are planning to trade their 2020 lottery pick in the very near future, he needs to be playing more, especially with the thin roster right now.

If he continues to play the way he did on Sunday, then there is not a good reason as to why he is not getting valuable minutes. The Knicks’ schedule is getting tougher. Players must be rewarded better for effective play in times like this.

Toppin will hope to earn more court time and continue what he did on Sunday when the Knicks take on the Cleveland Cavaliers back home on Tuesday.

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