The New York Knicks are letting Obi Toppin waste away

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Last night’s slam dunk contest champion Obi Toppin is one of the most exciting young players on the New York Knicks, but he’s had a hard time seeing the court lately.

The Knicks have been playing a terrifyingly abhorrent brand of basketball in 2022 that has not only led to crushing losses but it’s also led to the disappearance of a lot of their key young players, including the high-flying Toppin.

New York Knicks: Where is Obi Toppin?

Let’s just get right to the point — the reason this Knicks season has been so repulsive, so hard on the eyes and so infuriating is not just the losing. It’s the way this team is losing.

New York is constantly inventing new ways to collapse. They are clearly better than their record.

Even if better only means by a few games, what’s really exciting about the Knicks’ future is their young talent and draft picks for the future. Except, we hardly ever get to see that young talent.

Obi Toppin, along with other recent draft picks, is hardly seeing the court.

Let’s get right to the point on this subject as well — Tom Thibodeau’s mentality. I fully understand and support the idea of veterans having big roles and playing to win night in and night out. The problem is, that these veterans haven’t been performing. Not only that, when they are playing poorly, they aren’t punished.

Tom Thibodeau would rather leave in an ice-cold Alec Burks, a Kemba Walker corpse, and a 65-year-old Taj Gibson than give any young player minutes. It’s actually been a horrible message to the team, that you essentially can’t play your way into a larger role.

We’ve seen Quentin Grimes catch fire, Obi Toppin ignite a comeback, or Immanuel Quickley provide a spark off the bench, only to be yanked after a few minutes so a slumping veteran can get back on the court.

In his last 15 games, Obi Toppin has averaged 12.6 minutes. The New York Knicks are 3-12 in that span. They are now 9 games under .500

What are we doing here?

Again, I respect Tom Thibodeau’s mindset of winning over tanking, but his lack of self-reflection is really a monumental flaw in his approach.

This team invested high draft capital in Obi Toppin. He has shown flashes of being an impact player. And yet, here we are in the 2nd half of year two, and the soon-to-be 24-year-old is an afterthought? Why? This is a young team trying to build for the future, and they’re not even playing their building blocks.

At this point in the season, whatever “advantage” playing a more traditional center like Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson has really proved to not be an advantage at all.

You don’t have to make Obi Toppin a starter. But you’ve got to try and get him close to 20 minutes per night.

Unfortunately for New York, the stubbornness and lack of self-awareness with Tom Thibodeau makes these cries for development feel like shouting into an abyss.

Obi Toppin could be a part of the New York Knicks’ future, but we’ll never know that so long as Tom Thibodeau is at the helm.

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