Knicks’ Obi Toppin puts growth on display in season opener over Boston

obi toppin, knicks

In dramatic fashion, the New York Knicks walked away with an awesome victory over the Boston Celtics to open the season. Led predominantly by Julius Randle and Evan Fournier, who combined for 67 points, four blocks, four steals, and 12 assists, one player who flew under the radar was second-year power forward Obi Toppin.

After struggling in his rookie season to find his path in the NBA, averaging just 4.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and shooting 50% from the field, Toppin put forth a showing that displayed his growth this off-season. The Dayton product is known for his transition abilities and highflying athleticism, and he showcased some of that skill against Boston, dunking over a number of defenders and continuously shredding their interior defense.

“Man, hearing your name getting chanted in the Garden is amazing,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable experience that I can’t even explain. It’s just something you have to live through.”

With Obi’s name ringing throughout a packed Madison Square Garden, echoing down eighth avenue, following a corridor of buildings as far as the eye can see, the city felt vibrant with the coming of a new team…a new age.

“He’s confident,” Julius Randle said. “He’s just playing to his strengths. All of that is from repetition and work. I’ve seen him work every day, he works extremely hard. You continue Randall had nothing but great things to say about his young teammate, and fellow veteran Kemba walker also indicated that top and change the pace of the game and curated momentum shifting opportunities toto work in this league year after year, you’re going to get better.”

Randle had nothing but great things to say about his young teammate, and fellow veteran Kemba Walker also indicated that Toppin changed the pace of the game and curated momentum-shifting opportunities to demoralize Boston.

“Obi, I thought he changed the pace of the game,” new point guard Kemba Walker said. “He’s a very special talent. He can really run.”

Toppin finished the game with 14 points, one block, five rebounds, and shot 6-of-9 from the field over 28 minutes. While he missed all three of us three-point attempts, his big transition dunks provided a spark of motivation on offense.

If Obi continues to produce at this level and develop, the Knicks will see their 8th overall pick from 2020 reach his potential. Some were skeptical of his talents and how he’d make an impact, but with the right coaching and work ethic, anything is possible.

Two standout players in Knicks’ double OT win over Celtics

julius randle, knicks

The New York Knicks emerged victorious in an exciting season opener against the Boston Celtics (final score 138-134). After starting the first half with lackadaisical defense and poor communication, the Knicks bounced back strong in the second half, limiting Boston to 48 points while scoring 62 of their own.

Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 46 points after spending the last ten days rehabilitating from Covid and progressing through protocols. His performance left a stain on the victory, but the Knicks managed to limit the production of Jayson Tatum, who shot 7-for-30 and connected on just 2-of-15 three-point attempts. He scored 20 points with 11 rebounds. Brown, on the other hand, shot over 50% from the field and 60% from three-point range, producing a large chunk of the Celtics’ points.

However, the Knicks had a few stand-out performances of their own; one of them coming from a newcomer to the New York area.

Two standout players for the Knicks in opening win:

Julius Randle:

Randle picked up right where he left off in the 2020-21 season, posting 35 points over 46 minutes, shooting 12-of-27 from the field and 3-of-8 from range. He also contributed eight rebounds, nine assists, three blocks, and turned the ball over a game-high seven times.

Despite losing the ball on a few occasions, he was a monster in the paint and came up big when the Knicks needed him most. His contributions set the stage for another elite season accompanied by an All-Star appearance.

After the game, head coach Tom Thibodeau stated how surprised he was that Randle was more hungry for success than last season. Sometimes, players take a step back after signing big contracts, but you can tell that Randle is motivated by much more than money.

“He gives you everything he has…He had that monster year last year, got a new contract…And he’s hungrier now than he was last year, which I thought was impossible,” Thibodeau told reporters.

Evan Fournier:

While some may point to Mitchell Robinson’s 17 rebounds and 11 points as one of the primary performances for the Knicks (which it was), we can’t go without mentioning Evan Fournier and his incredible shooting prowess in the victory.

The new free-agent signing contributed 32 points, four steals, three-assist, six rebounds, and shot 13-of-25 on the field and 6-of-13 from three-point range. Fournier‘s ability to create opportunities on his own and drive to the rim separates him significantly from Reggie Bullock, who the Knicks allowed to leave this past off-season, subsequently signing with the Dallas Mavericks. The French-born player was on fire during overtime play, which kept the Knicks alive — a 3-PT shot with 55 seconds left in double-OT was the catalyst to give New York the edge. That specific basket provided a three-point lead, just enough cushion to force Boston into taking low-percentage shots the rest of the way.

If Fournier can continue to perform like this, the Knicks will have themselves one of the more prominent and dominant offenses in the NBA. Fournier played 44 minutes, just behind Randle and RJ Barrett, who played a team-high 47.

Despite scoring zero points in the first half, Barrett contributed 19 in the second half, picking up two blocks. The team contributed 10 blocks in total and nine steals. If the Knicks can get off to more aggressive defensive starts, their offense should lead them to plenty of victories. They shot 37.8% from three-point range on the evening and 48.6% from the field. However, one number that needs to increase is their free-throw percentage, as they connected on just 70.4%.

Overall, it was an exciting and majestic way to start the regular season — it’s going to be a fun one, Knicks fans!

Knicks lose Taj Gibson for opener, full steam ahead with Mitchell Robinson

new york knicks, rj barrett

With the New York Knicks preparing to take on the Boston Celtics in the home opener of the 2021–22 season, they will be without two veteran centers in Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson. Noel has been battling a sore left knee for the past few weeks, and his absence was expected to provide Mitchell Robinson with an excellent opportunity to earn solid minutes as he rehabilitates from a fractured foot.

Gibson, on the other hand, was forced out of the contests due to personal reasons, meaning the Knicks will have to supplement his loss with a potential dual power forward combination including Julius Randle and Obi Toppin. Alternatively, they do have Jericho Sims on the active roster, so he could earn minutes in his rookie season after signing a two-way contract.

Gibson has been preparing for any situation he’s required to perform in, indicating that Tom Thibodeau has coached him to be versatile.

“The moment I came into the league, Thibs has always had me in different situation,” said Gibson, who is entering his 13th NBA season. “He’s always prepared me for starting, coming off the bench. He didn’t want me to just be a guy floating. He always told me to have my head on a swivel, always be ready, always be professional and work will handle the rest.

Gibson was solid during preseason play, posting 21 points against the Detroit Pistons, activating his shooting prowess, and showing off a new element to his game. The veteran continues to surprise, injecting energy and leadership on the court whatever he’s called upon.

However, the team will rely on Robinson against Boston after he played in 27 minutes in the preseason finale against the Washington Wizards. Robinson found himself gassed at some points due to a lack of stamina, but getting him involved early should help him return to his old ways in due time.

Knicks News: Mitchell Robinson could get start, 3 keys to victory

mitchell robinson, knicks

It is game day for the New York Knicks as they prepare to take on the Boston Celtics in the season opener at 7:30 PM. However, the team expects to be without center Nerlens Noel, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal this off-season to provide insurance for Mitchell Robinson, who is coming off a fractured foot from last year.

With Noel expected to miss the game, the expectation was that veteran Taj Gibson would start in his place, as Robinson only experienced one preseason game to get his feet underneath him. Nonetheless, head coach Tom Thibodeau presented the idea that Mitch could start ahead of Gibson after impressing in his first action.

“I’m not sure yet, I want to see where Mitch is and hopefully Mitch will be ready and Taj is always ready,’’ Thibodeau said. “Whatever we ask of him — to start or come off the bench or be situational. That’s the great value in Taj. Mitch is really coming on, so we’re very pleased with his progress.”

In Robinson’s first preseason outing, he played in 27 minutes, scoring six points and picking up nine rebounds. It will take him a bit of time to recover his stamina, but the old Mitch is undoubtedly there with added muscle mass, presenting a fantastic option in the lob game.

3 keys to victory for the Knicks

1.) Limit Jayson Tatum

First thing is first, stopping Jayson Tatum is essential for the Knicks if they want to extract a victory to open the year. Tatum has made two consecutive All-Star appearances, posting 26.4 points, 4.3 assists, 7.4 rebounds, and shooting nearly 39% from three-point range last season. He’s a bonafide superstar, and if the Knicks can throw him off his game early on, they can pull away with a nice cushion.

Featuring one of the league’s best defenses last year, if they can replicate that standard and efficiency, it will be difficult for teams to take down New York, given their offensive additions this off-season.

2.) Shoot over 39% from 3-PT range

When the Knicks are shooting well, they are a tough team to beat. The Knicks ranked third last season in three-point percentage at 39.2 but landed at 27th in attempts with 30 per game.

Thibodeau is keen on improving their attempts but not taking overzealous shots with low-efficiency rates. He wants to get good looks from specific spots on the court, specifically the corner for RJ Barrett, and allow Kemba and Fournier to create opportunities on their own.

If they can come out shooting well and connecting on the three-ball, the Knicks will have a massive advantage in earning their first victory of the season.

3.) Limit turnovers in critical moments

Basketball is a game of momentum, and key turnovers can be the difference between winning and losing games. For the Brooklyn Nets, that ended up being a significant factor in their defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. James Harden turned the ball over four times, including late in the game when they had an opportunity to make a come-back down 10 points with about eight minutes left.

Julius Randle has had issues in that category, turning the ball over 3.4 times last season. However, the first time All-Star worked diligently on his handling this off-season, hopefully allowing him to cut down on the turnovers and give his team more opportunities to score and maintain momentum.

Knicks V Celtics: How to watch season opener | Time, TV, Channel

knicks

The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Boston Celtics in the home opener of the 2021–22 season. The Knicks, coming off a season where they won 41 games, including 25 at home, will look to take a step forward after the additions of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.

Featuring one of the league’s most aggressive and productive defenses, an increase in offensive production could help them shoot up the division and make another postseason appearance.

Boston, on the other hand, partook in the play-in tournament during the 2020-21 campaign, winning 36 games, including 21 at home and 15 away. The Knicks hold a slight advantage in the power index, with a 55.1% chance of victory.

The spread consensus favors the Knicks at -2 with a money line of -139 and +110 for Boston.

How to watch Knicks V Celtics season opener:

  • NBA regular season game
  • Celtics @ Knicks
  • Tuesday, Oct. 19
  • Madison Square Garden
  • 7:30 p.m. ET
  • ESPN

The Knicks are coming off four consecutive preseason wins, with a buzzer-beater against the Washington Wizards, courtesy of Julius Randle. Boston, on the other hand, went 2-2 during preseason play, with a loss in the finale to the Miami Heat.

However, Boston has a talented team featuring Jayson Tatum, Dennis Schroder, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown.

The starting five for New York will likely include Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Evan Fournier, and Kemba Walker.

It will be interesting to see the transition of both Fournier and Walker, who played for Boston last season, make their debuts with the Knicks. Stopping Boston will start with limiting the impact of Brown and Tatum, who are both capable of dominating a game with elite scoring prowess.

The Knicks will look to use their suffocating defense to their advantage and put significant pressure on the Celtics’ playmakers.

Knicks’ RJ Barrett explains why he could be in for a big Year 3

new york knicks, rj barrett

The New York Knicks might be staring their next star player right in the face with RJ Barrett. Barrett is entering his third season in the NBA with two years left on his contract after the upcoming season. The Knicks have a team option for the 2022–23 campaign and a qualifying offer at $14.3 million for the season after. Luckily, the team has Barrett locked up for the long term, and they also have the financial flexibility to extend him if he reaches his potential.

Barrett has taken a tremendous step forward on both sides of the ball, averaging 17.6 points, 3.0 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and shooting 44% from the field this past season at 20-years-old. He also connected on 40% of his three-point attempts, marking an 8% uptick in efficiency.

The young Canadian-born player believes this new season will present him an opportunity to take another behemoth step forward, and it starts with comfort in Tom Thibodeau’s system.

“I feel like I have just a little bit more experience, I would say, just a little more comfortable being out there on the floor,” Barrett said about how his game has changed since this time last year. “More comfortable knowing also playing for Thibs where my shots are going to come from, who I’m going to guard, what I’m going to do. Just because my first couple years, I was under a couple different coaches.”

During preseason play, RJ enjoyed 31.2 minutes of action over four games. He logged a 43% field goal hit rate and shot 48% from three-point range, attempting 6.25 per game, which would mark a career-high. He also contributed 4.25 rebounds and 0.75 blocks per game.

If RJ can continue building upon his three-point efficiency, he will find himself even closer to his first All-Star appearance, but he needs to create more opportunities on his own instead of being a spot-up shooter. Using his athleticism and strength driving to the basket is one way for him to maximize his skill set, aside from playing aggressive and tantalizing defense.

Ultimately, Barrett has the potential to be a premium-level player, which is why many floated the idea of trading him in a blockbuster deal for Damian Lillard this past off-season. However, the Knicks have big plans for their young guard, and it starts with helping take the organization to the next level after establishing a benchmark of success during the 2020–21 season.

Barrett’s teammate Derrick Rose has wise words for the young guard, stating:

 “He could be as great as he wants to be.”

Knicks’ rookie Lithuanian guard is dominating overseas, here’s a look

Rokas Jokubaitis, knicks

The New York Knicks were unable to get a strong look at rookie draft selection Rokas Jokubaitis this summer, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t getting in some great work this season in the Euro League.

Jokubaitis is currently playing for FC Barcelona in the Spanish Liga, and as a savvy guard looking to build upon his offensive skill set, he could have a purpose as a two-way player for the Knicks in the future. Essentially, he is a stash guard who will develop playing against quality European players as he climbs the ranks. However, he has been phenomenal as of late for Barcelona, which should excite Knicks fans who are already above and beyond over a team that is capable of winning now.

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, Knicks’ 34th overall pick, Rokas Jokubaitis has been dominating to start the Euro League this season.

At this point, European teams have already played several games, so we’re already getting an impression of who is off to a great start and who isn’t. The most notable outlier from the previous year’s performance might be Jokubaitis, who has exploded in the early going in his first season in Spain. Most notably, he’s been able to convert both frequently and efficiently inside the arc despite moving up to a more difficult league, hitting 20 of his 31 2-point attempts while drawing fouls at roughly double the rate of a year ago.

Of course, names like Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride will likely litter the headlines this upcoming season, but don’t forget about Jokubaitis; he’s making a name for himself quietly and building upon his skill set. While he does have athletic limitations and doesn’t offer much on defense, he is a strong scoring guard who has a versatile array of moves he can utilize at the NBA level.

So far, it seems as if the Knicks’ front office has knocked this past draft class out of the park. Grimes has already shown stellar defense and quality shooting but simply needs more playing time.

McBride is a young point guard with plenty to learn, but stashing him behind Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose should benefit him tremendously. In addition, the next retained center, Jericho Sims on the roster via a two-way contract.

Sims impressed with his aggressiveness in the paint and superior athleticism this off-season. With the right coaching and development, Sims could end up being a quality starter down the line.

Knicks’ Evan Fournier brushes off pre-season shooting woes, Thibs drops wisdom

evan fournier, knicks

The preseason is essential for players to begin building chemistry, especially ones trying to adapt to a new team. The New York Knicks brought in two high-profile free agents this off-season in Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, and while it will take a bit of time for them to gel with their new teammates, utilizing their existing skills is all management expects.

During preseason play, Fournier struggled to get going, averaging 25.5 minutes over four games. He shot 35.5% from the field and only 30% from three-point range, a number the team expects to increase during the regular season and a larger sample size.

Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau stated that Fournier needs to focus on being himself rather than trying to adapt to his new teammates and find his role within the team. The front office signed him to be a lethal shooter from range and to curate more opportunities from himself, which Reggie Bullock struggled to do last season.

“I was just told that actually, which makes sense,” Fournier said after practice Sunday. “The season is kind of my first time being the new guy on the team. But I have no [concerns] at all.

Luckily, the Knicks didn’t need higher efficiency scoring from Fournier to extract victories during preseason play, but the regular season is a different beast with more intensity. The Boston Celtics aren’t going to be rotating their reserve players in to help mitigate fatigue prior to the start of meaningful games.

“Preseason is preseason. It’s actually made to make mistakes and to learn from your teammates and plays and stuff. Once the season starts you start to get into a rhythm. The main thing is to be yourself.”

The Knicks are already expected to be without starting center Nerlens Noel for opening day against Boston, thrusting Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson into more prominent roles to start the year. However, they will need more production from the former Celtic, who contributed 17.1 points last season, adding 3.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds, shooting nearly 46% from the field and 41% from three-point range.

Once Fournier is in rhythm with his teammates, the Knicks could have one of the more potent offenses in the league, especially if they can maintain a high rate of three-point shooting and efficiency above 39%.

Knicks News: Starting center likely ‘out’ for opener, it’s Taj Gibson’s time to shine

nerlens noel, knicks

While the long-term starting center for the New York Knicks will likely be Mitchell Robinson, he isn’t expected to take on that role to begin the 2021–22 campaign. In fact, the hope was that Nerlens Noel, who signed a three-year, $27.7 million deal this past off-season, would take on the starting job to allow Robinson to ease his way back to full health.

Robinson played in 27 minutes in the Knicks’ preseason finale, but he admitted that his stamina and endurance still needs plenty of work before he can take on a fall games workload. Robinson was seen huffing and puffing his way up and down the court at times, whereas he showed regular energy and burst last season before going down with a fractured foot and hand.

Nonetheless, Noel is expected to miss the team’s opener against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday evening, which will thrust Robinson into a more prominent role alongside veteran Taj Gibson.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to give Noel the proper time to rehabilitate and make sure he’s fully ready to go.

“He’s just gotta be patient and let him work his way through it,” Thibodeau said.

Luckily, the Knicks have plenty of depth at the center position, thanks to the extensions they offered Noel and Gibson this off-season to cushion any significant blow. The Knicks seemingly undersold Noel’s injury this preseason, as he was unable to make an appearance in hopes of gaining chemistry with his new teammates in Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.

“We feel like we have good quality depth,” Thibodeau said. “This is part of the NBA, you have guys out, and that next guy has to be ready, he’s got to step in and get the job done.”

Gibson, who will earn more minutes in Noel’s absence, proved to be a solid contributor against the Detroit Pistons. Gibson added a new element to his game — a midrange shot and three-point range. The coaching staff tasked the big men to begin working on their shots, as they will be expected to offer a bit of production in the category this upcoming season.


“I’m easy to adapt, even in practice, even in walk-through,” Gibson said “I will switch from third team, first team, second team, so I just read the game. I’m comfortable. I’ve been playing with these guys for a while now. Whatever the game throws at me I’m able to adjust.”

Gibson contributed 21 points over 31 minutes against Detroit, shooting 9-of-14 from the field and hitting one shot from three-point range. That is the type of production the team is hoping to get from their veteran center, and they will be expecting him to exert maximum energy and help supplement the loss of Noel in the short term.

Knicks’ Thibodeau showcases interesting player combo in win over Wizards

quentin grimes, knicks

The New York Knicks played their final preseason game of the off-season as if it were a playoff contest against the Washington Wizards on Friday evening. Winning every single game prior to the start of the regular season on October 20, the Knicks are flying high into a year where expectations are elevated after adding Evan Fournier and Kemba walker in free agency.

The Knicks’ final win over Washington proved multiple things, including their resilience and perseverance to come back from a deficit that reached as high as 19 points. Marching their way back in the fourth quarter, All-Star power forward Julius Randle connected on a step-back jumper to win the game, and while it didn’t have any meaning on the schedule, it provided the team with plenty of motivation and confidence moving forward.

However, one of the more interesting takeaways from the game was a player combination curated by head coach Tom Thibodeau. With Alec Burks resting in the final preseason matchup, rookie Quentin Grimes picked up his minutes instead, and he provided fantastic and aggressive defense the entire fourth quarter.

The lineup Thibodeau chose didn’t include a center with Taj Gibson fouling out — it featured Julius Randle and Obi Toppin as the enforcers down low.

  • PF: Julius Randle
  • PF: Obi Toppin
  • PG: Derrick Rose
  • SG: RJ Barrett
  • SG: Quentin Grimes

Derrick Rose looked like his vintage self, which seems to be more of a regular occurrence. He posted 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field over 29 minutes. He also contributed six assists which benefited the team tremendously during their comeback.

This combination indicates that Grimes would likely be the supplement for Burks or Barrett if either are unable to play for a given reason. While the Houston product only connected on 2-of-9 shots, he earned a +16 +/- and contributed six rebounds and two steals over 21 minutes.

Getting Grimes a solid sample size of playing time was essential for Thibodeau, who needed to see him in a more prominent role with the starters before the regular season commenced. His fantastic defense will likely aid in his development this year and provide comfort for Thibodeau when he’s on the floor. If Quentin can begin hitting his shots more consistently, he could be a dangerous weapon off the bench for a team that is already considerably deep at most positions.