NY Knicks: Can Toppin and Randle Share the Court?

Obi Toppin, NY Knicks. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Obi Toppin, NY Knicks. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The NY Knicks finally enacted revenge on the Atlanta Hawks, beating them 104-84 in a 2021 MGM Resorts NBA Summer League consolation game.  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Knicks are back.

In all seriousness, New York had one of the most productive Summer Leagues in the NBA. The team showed off their new draft picks Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and  Jericho Sims.

The Knicks’ sophomores also had a chance to shine, with SG/PG Immanuel Quickly and most notably, F Obi Toppin.

Toppin averaged 21 points with 8 rebounds during the team’s 8 games. He shot 45% from the field and 89% from the free-throw line, all while improving his three-point shooting to the tune of 34%.

The former 8th overall pick and former Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award Winner is coming off of a mixed bag of a rookie year. He showed flashes of brilliance but overall looked out of place. He was injured in the first game of the year and never found consistency.

NY Knicks: Can Julius Randle and Obi Topping coexist?

Stuck behind Most Improved Player and 2nd Team All NBA Julius Randle, Toppin averaged only 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in only 11 minutes per game.

However, Toppin’s improvement could not only spell Randle of one of the largest workloads in the league (last year he averaged 37.6 minutes per game), but also provide an opportunity for the two to share the court together.

Last season I wrote about how playing Randle at center would help with the NY Knicks spacing issues and provide an offensive boost.  Similarly, a frontcourt of Randle and Toppin would provide an interesting wrinkle this season.

Both Randle and Toppin have been small ball centers before – Randle with the Pelicans and Lakers, and Toppin at Dayton. If Randle’s 3-point shooting doesn’t regress and if Toppin’s continues to improve, it would spark a similar improvement in spacing.

It would also be a nightmare for opposing defensives, as Toppin looked like a nightmare off of the pick and roll in the Summer League.

Replacing Elfrid Payton with Kemba Walker and retaining Derick Rose is essential for Toppin and Randle as well. Toppin and Rose clicked last season, and I find it hard to believe him and Walker won’t as well.

Also, Randle can use some relief as the primary ball-handler. Walker and Rose will provide flexibility for both Toppin and Randle.

If Toppin is again relegated to exclusively backup Power Forward, it is primarily because of his defense.

He looked lost defensively last season, and while Randle can handle opposing centers, the risk may not outweigh the reward.

Regardless of where and when he plays, expect improvement from Toppin.

dark. Next. Predicting NY's point guard depth chart