New York Knicks: 4 takeaways from Obi Toppin’s preseason debut

Obi Toppin, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Obi Toppin, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 11, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) dribbles the ball up the court during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

3) RJ Barrett’s up-and-down night

This season isn’t about wins and losses, although if the Knicks are able to outperform expectations it would only speak to this point: the 2020-21 season is about developing the young players.

RJ Barrett is a huge part of that. After a so-so rookie campaign, everyone will be looking to see how he performs in lineups more suited for his skillset and with a coaching staff who has a stronger record in player development than the previous regime.

Things didn’t get off to a very good start in Detroit. In one sequence early in the game, Barrett took two consecutive wide open threes, and he missed both of them, one ending as an air ball.

After missing 8 of his first 10 shots in the first half, whatever happened during halftime helped. He connected on 5 of 6 of his shots in the second half and finished the game with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and two assists. Overall, he shot 7-16 (43.8%) from the field, but 0-4 from downtown.

As discussed in the first key takeaway, the Knicks need to identify a lineup offering that allows Barrett to be a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and a slasher who can find points in space without the ball.

He had an up-and-down first preseason game. It was good to see him rebound off a terrible shooting start.