New York Knicks: Obi Toppin’s star power will shine in the Dunk Contest

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
Obi Toppin.
Obi Toppin, Knicks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks will kick off the All-Star break with the distinction of having their first participant in the annual star-studded game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2017. The breakout season from forward Julius Randle earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference reserves.

However, the Knicks also expect to have a second representative in the festivities. Rookie Obi Toppin has reportedly agreed to be a participant in the league’s Slam Dunk Contest. As things currently stand, he will be the headliner in a field that will reportedly also include two relatively unknown commodities in Blazers’ guard Anfernee Simons and Pacers’ guard Cassius Stanley. Oddly enough, the high-flying rookie will be the headlining talent.

After posting a disappointing beginning to the 2021 campaign, an appearance in the Dunk Contest will be a great opportunity for the 8th overall pick to re-establish himself on a major stage.

Obi Toppin’s early struggles with the Knicks

Toppin has a colligate star during his time at Dayton University. He was widely considered to be a steal for New York after falling in the draft. The 2020 National College Player of the Year entered the regular season with the second-best odds at capturing Rookie of the Year honors. However, a calf injury and a slow star have caused excitement levels to dwindle considerably. First-year players like LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, and even fellow Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley have all firmly surpassed him for consideration.

As the All-Star break approaches, Toppin is averaging just 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He is also averaging just 12.2 minutes per appearance over 25 games played.

Obi Toppin ready to rep the Knicks in The Dunk Contest

NBA’s prime mid-season event is the perfect opportunity for Toppin to recapture some of his early career momentum. Last season, the All-Star Weekend averaged 7.3 million viewers. This was a 15% increase in viewership over the previous season. Aside from a postseason run, there is no better way for a young player to put his skillset before a national stage.

While COVID adjustments have caused the events to be consolidated from a weekend-long spectacle to a single-day, viewership should still be high. The Dunk Contest, which will take place during halftime of the All-Star game, is in a prime position to capture the most eyes.

March 7th will be Toppins first real opportunity to show the world why he was one of the top collegiate players in the country. A good showing could instantaneously elevate his star power. A great performance could even help him elevate into the realm of a player like Aaron Gordon.

What better way could there be for Toppin to capture a wave of momentum to ride into the second half of the season?

Knicks: Obi Toppin’s Highlight Potential

For all of Toppin’s struggles out of the gate, one thing has remained consistent: his ability to produce highlight dunks. The Dayton superstar already has a growing collection of NBA posters despite his limited playing time.

He seems to be the type of talent that is built for an event like the Dunk Contest. He also carries some of the biggest name recognition and the backing of a New York fanbase. This should be the perfect combination of factors to allow his star power to shine.

Toppin’s scouting report was riddled with compliments on his athleticism, power, and dunking ability. He even drew pre-draft comparisons to players like Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin.

The talented rookie has the perfect skillset to make a name for himself in the best basketball league in the world. Winning the dunk contest trophy would be a phenomenal way for Toppin to right the ship headed into the second half of his inaugural campaign.

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