New York Knicks: Obi Toppin’s shooting remains key to his evolution

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin hasn’t had the 2nd year development that some would have hoped for this season.

In the midst of the Knicks’ struggles, Toppin hasn’t really been able to stand out as a difference-maker — a lot of the time, it’s been out of his control. Toppin has had difficulty finding a sizeable and consistent spot in Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.

As a young player, a big part of Toppin’s struggles is certainly the lack of team focus on his development, but there are still some areas where you’d expect him to have made some more improvement — especially shooting the ball.

New York Knicks: Obi Toppin’s lack of shooting

Toppin being 24 years old may be difficult for some people to wrap their heads around, but he was a late-blooming prospect. He had a pretty unique career heading into the NBA and was more of a developmental player in spite of his advanced age.

Even still, there were aspects of Obi Toppin’s game that felt as though they could potentially translate immediately, one of which was his jumpshot. Here’s part of a scouting report from

"He has the ability to operate on the low post, mid range and even step out to the 3 point line and be effective, making him fit seamlessly as a 6’9 four man in the current NBA … His shooting fundamentals are a plus, as he shoots with consistent mechanics and a high release point, making him a potential floor spacing option … Showed the ability to create offense from the perimeter, hitting both catch and shoot but also creating some pull ups … His 39% from 3-point shows what a prolific shooter he has become … The fact that he shot a great clip on a high usage rate gives his ability to score at the next level a lot of intrigue"

Really, the New York Knicks are never asking Toppin to be put into a high-usage role. He’s generally moving a lot off-ball and playing off of the guards.

While the Knicks’ point guard play has been perhaps their weakest position this season, Toppin can still do a lot more with the shots he’s getting up.

For the most part, he’s getting great catch-and-shoot looks.

The shooting really is vital for Obi Toppin to succeed in the NBA. As a player who doesn’t have a strong physical presence to match up with centers or the lateral quickness to keep up with a lot of wings, he’s mostly glued into being a stretch-4. And it’s a problem when the stretch-4 isn’t stretching the floor.

Toppin’s 3-point shooting has dropped from just over 30%% last season to 21.9% this year. He has to at least be hitting around a 34% clip.

Being able to knock down those open 3s isn’t just about how it looks in the box score, it will open up his entire game. Toppin has already shown how deadly he can be getting to the rim, but you can’t be a one-trick pony. Teams will just sag off and give him that long-range shot if he’s not hitting it.

Hopefully, long-range shooting is the priority this offseason and we can see Obi Toppin evolve his game even further.

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