NY Knicks: Should team second guess drafting of Obi Toppin?

Obi Toppin, NY Knicks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Obi Toppin, NY Knicks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks: Who else could they have considered?

As I look back at the 2020 draft, knowing that Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball were not an option, there really is only one player I would consider taking instead of Obi. The other small forward options, Saddiq Bey and Leandro Bolmaro, might be nice players, but their upside is not as high as Obi or the guy I love – Aleksej Pokusevski (Polu).

The best option in my option was the player taken by The Thunder with the 17th pick, Aleksej Pokusevski(Poku). He was considered a reach when Sam Presti drafted him, but he has played better than expected. Before the draft I wrote an article “Knicks Draft Strategy: Find the outliners in the first round“. In that article, I listed 4 players the Knicks should target, two (Williams & Okoro) got unexpectedly taken in the top 5.

The 3rd player, Kira Lewis Jr., as mentioned doesn’t make sense now that the Knicks have Quickley. Pokusevski was the 4th outliner on my list. His combination of size and skill, a 7-footer that plays like a guard is insane. He is also fearless and creative. The only reason he wasn’t higher on draft boards was that he was raw and needed to fill out. At 205lbs, he could not be expected to play consistent minutes for an entire NBA season.

While I was hoping the NY Knicks would have selected him with their second 1st round pick, in hindsight it would have made more sense to trade back from the 8th pick to the end of the lottery to draft him. Knowing that Thibodeau doesn’t like playing young guys, Poku could have been sent to the G-League during rookie season. There also won’t be an outcry if he played the same amount of minutes that Obi Toppin is getting as the 8th pick, less than 12 minutes a game.

While I originally didn’t like the Obi Toppin pick, I see why the Knicks selected him. I am now convinced he will be a good NBA player. My concern is that he can’t play with Randle, who is now a foundational piece.

While Poku’s numbers haven’t been great, he’s had good moments and is getting better with every game. He has shown enough to start 10 games this season for the  Thunder. He has had two 20+ point games recently. Poku is shooting 89.5% from the free-throw line. He also averages almost 3 assists and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes. Not bad for a player that was 18 years on draft night.

Poku could have been our new unicorn, replacing Kristaps Porzingis(KP). While he still needs to fill out, he has played 18% of the time at center. He also would be a better fit along with Randle and Mitch as he stretches the floor.

Again, I am not second-guessing the Knicks, especially since it was Leon Rose’s first draft. Going with a mature player with upside that you have a strong personal connection with made sense. He was a projected top-5 pick that slipped to 8th. he also filled what appeared to be a position of need at the time.

But knowing how hard it is to win an NBA championship, let’s hope the NY Knicks strike gold in the draft at least one more time.

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