The Knicks were thinking about making the draft at number 5 so they could get Obi Toppin. They didn’t make that leap and were rewarded nonetheless, when Toppin fell on them at number 8.
22-year-old Toppin, who starred for Dayton, joins a young core that includes Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett.
“I’m from New York, that’s why it’s important,” Toppin said. “I representing my city, it’s fantastic. A lot of people pray to be in this position. I won’t take it for granted.”
Saying his defense is one of the things he needs to work on, Toppin was thrilled to be working with Knicks manager Tom Thibodeau.
“I learned a lot about the coach during this pandemic and basically understand that he is a defensive coach,” said Toppin. I feel like I have him as my coach, he’ll make sure I hook up and make sure he gets big one day. I feel like if I break down this defensive plan one day I will become a great player, a great player one day. “
As for how he fits in with the Knicks, Toppin was thrilled to play with Barrett, who the Knicks have firmly in their plans for the future despite a fluctuating rookie season.
“I feel like RJ and I are going to be a great duo,” Toppin explained. “It will be like me and Jalen again – me and Jalen Crutcher, who I played with at Dayton. RJ and I on the field together will be many situations where we will put people in difficult situations like pick-and-roll covers, knowing I can pick and pop, knowing that I can roll to the basket. And RJ having an IQ and the skills he has, I feel like we will be a very dynamic couple in the NBA and we will prove it next season. “
While hoping to become a key piece of the Knicks’ young up-and-coming core, Toppin – who said New York is “down a couple of years” – said he’s ready to help “get New York back on the map for sure. “.
Toppin also spoke of his meteoric rise, sometimes overwhelmed with emotion.
“Nothing was easy for me,” he said. “I went through a lot of things growing up. I feel like through those struggles and those bad times I went through growing up, it made me the person and player I am today. I learned from those experiences, on and off the pitch. And going through those experiences helped me become who I am today. I wouldn’t change that at all. “