New York Knicks: Julius Randle takes Obi Toppin under his wings

How will Tom Thibodeau divide the forward minutes between Julius Randle and rookie Obi Toppin? USA Today

New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin dispels the notion that he and six-year veteran Julius Randle aren’t a good fit.

In fact, the rookie has been leaning on Randle among other Knicks frontcourt players to learn the league’s ropes.

“I’ve been matched up against Julius Randle, Nerlens [Noel], and Mitch [Robinson] sometimes. Playing against those guys, they gave me a lot of feedback. They’re great guys especially Jules. He’s been helping me throughout this whole process,” Toppin told reporters via zoom call ahead of his preseason debut against the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. Friday E.T.

“I’ve been getting extra shots up, and watching films. He’s been teaching me a lot. He’s been in the game a little bit. So I’m just taking in everything those guys are telling me and getting better every day,” he added.

Both players play the power forward position, although Toppin has played as a small-ball center in Dayton. Based on their scrimmages, Toppin could see minutes at both positions depending on the matchups.

Before Randle took the rookie under his wings, the former Kentucky star said they could co-exist.

“He can shoot it and run the floor. So I think we’ll be able to complement each other well,” Randle said.

Tonight will be the first time we’re going to see whether there should really be a cause for concern or not.

Brotherly competition

Toppin, one of the oldest rookies, has been a picture of composure so far. His maturity has been above the class. The rookie’s measured approach is the exact opposite of the dysfunction that plagued this Knicks team for a while.

His underdog story has taught him that everything should be earned and nothing is given. So he exactly knows he needs to earn his spot behind the veterans. 

“You come into a league where everybody is getting money to provide for their families. They’re gonna do everything in their power to not get their spot taken. It’s a competitive league but it’s also a brotherhood. So going into this team like everybody is competing, everybody is doing what they have to do to stay on the court, but at the same time, they respect you,” Toppin said.

“You’re there for a reason. They’re gonna help you every step of the way. Everybody’s been helpful since Day One.”

Toppin’s focus is not to win the starting job but rather the game.

It’s been exactly nine months since the Knicks last played. On the other hand, Toppin has been preparing all his life for this moment to step on the NBA floor. 

“The time is finally here so I have the opportunity to say I’ve been on the court with NBA guys and we’re gonna work to get a W today,” Toppin said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo