The New York Knicks didn’t make any seismic changes to the roster in the summer, but they continued cultivating a team catered to head coach Tom Thibodeau’s style. Signing Donte DiVincenzo and extending Josh Hart are two prime examples of that.
Those two moves were the bread and butter of the Knicks’ offseason. The other one? Trading Obi Toppin after a rollercoaster three years.
Knicks fans set high expectations for the former No. 8 overall pick, but he was never afforded the opportunity to reach his ceiling. Being stuck behind a high-usage player like Julius Randle didn’t help matters, which is why so many Knicks talking heads questioned the pick on draft night.
Ultimately, New York did right by Toppin by sending him to the Indiana Pacers, who were widely viewed as the team among the list of suitors that could best accentuate his skillset.
The jury is obviously still out on Toppin’s tenure in Indiana, but Pacers fans are already experiencing the former top pick’s peaks and valleys five games in.
Pacers fans living through the Obi Toppin experiment is déjà vu for Knicks fans
The mood changed quick, didn’t it?
Toppin’s first five games with the Pacers have been reflective of his three years with the Knicks. Plenty of splash plays and things to be excited about, but ultimately nowhere near enough consistency to establish a significant role.
In the Pacers’ 155-111 win over the Spurs on Monday, Toppin scored 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 1-of-3 on threes in 27 minutes. He added two steals and was a +25. In four other games, though, Toppin is averaging 8.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.8 steals while shooting 1-of-7 on three-pointers.
Toppin logged a lowly 19 minutes Wednesday against the Jazz. It was the second-fewest minutes among the nine Pacers who played in the game. Toppin finished with six points and one rebound and was a team-worst -5, as Rick Carlisle entrusted other role players like Jalen Smith and Aaron Neismith. Tyrese Haliburton was the only other Pacer to post a negative plus-minus.
Five games obviously won’t define Toppin’s time with the Pacers. It stands to reason that he’ll grow into a greater role once he gets a better understanding of Carlisle’s system and becomes more comfortable playing with new teammates.
The longer that takes, though, the more likely it is that Toppin’s first year with the Pacers mirrors his frustrating three years in the Big Apple.
That would be quite the turn of events considering how many noted NBA writers pegged Toppin and Indiana as a perfect marriage.
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