Knicks rookie forward Obi Toppin is making his Slam-Dunk Contest debut tonight. His father, Obadiah – an international pro who was nicknamed “Dunkers Delight” – was his top basketball reference point in his youth, and his primary dunking influence, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“I grew up watching him,” Toppin said. “Every team he played on he was — his name was Dunkers Delight, so that speaks for itself.” The 23-year-old rookie, the No. 8 pick out of Dayton in 2020, is averaging 12.7 MPG for the upstart Knicks.
There’s more out of the Big Apple:
- All-Star (and potential MVP candidate) James Harden has already proved his mettle on the Nets, writes Greg Logan of Newsday. The Nets boast a 17-6 record across Harden’s first 23 games Brooklyn, and Harden’s 345 total assists (11.1 APG) this season currently lead the NBA. “So far, so good,” Harden said Wednesday. “Everything I signed up for. Top to bottom, it’s been great. Adversity has hit us . . . we’re affected by injuries, guys in and out of lineups, crazy, weird things happening. But I think we’ve fought through adversity and we’re in a really good position.”
- The addition of new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has helped New York return to respectability eight years after its last playoff appearance, but the team is not yet close to actual title contention, writes Zach Harper of The Athletic. “(I) wouldn’t say (Thibodeau) wasn’t considered a good coach anymore,” a Western Conference executive said to Harper. “People know he can coach. But it’s tough to gauge how much of that was the Wolves organization with their issues and how much of it was Tom not being a modern coach.”
- Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving opted out of his mandatory media video conference today before the All-Star game in Atlanta this evening, without notifying the league ahead of time. Marc Berman of the New York Post wonders if Irving may receive another fine from the league, which penalized him with a $25K charge for skipping his Media Day press obligations.