Knicks rookie Obi Toppin was able to carve out more minutes on Saturday as All-Star Julius Randle‘s backup thanks to his improved long-range shooting touch, as he went 3-for-4 from deep, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Toppin scored nine points in 8:38 of game action for a 120-103 New York victory over the Raptors. He earned a commendation from Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“Obi has been practicing great, I thought he played great tonight,’’ Thibodeau said. “He puts a lot of time into his shooting. He’s coming back at night. He’s grooving his shot so I think he’s gaining confidence. He’s practicing well too when we do practice. His concentration has improved. So he’s an important part of the second unit.’’
There’s more out of New York:
- After the Knicks whiffed on signing free agent superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the summer of 2019, the team has recovered admirably with an intriguing core duo, per Steve Popper of Newsday. New York pivoted by signing forward Julius Randle to a now-bargain three-year, $63MM deal that summer and selecting RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has helped strengthen that core. “I wanted to see where he was conditioning-wise, get to know him a little bit,” Thibodeau said of Randle. “He’s our engine, and he’s been a great leader right from the start.”
- Knicks second-year forward Barrett supports coach Tom Thibodeau as a Coach of the Year contender for the 2020/21 season, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. With Thibodeau’s addition, the Knicks are currently riding a season-high nine-game win streak to a 34-27 record and own the East’s No. 4 seed. Thibodeau has clearly been instrumental in the development of Barrett and Randle. “We all believe in Thibs,” Barrett said. “He’s done a tremendous job in how he’s turned everything around. The way he has us playing hard every single night and we’re getting wins. The whole staff, every day, we’re working hard, just pushing us. It’s a great feeling. I’m sure the fans see how hard we’re working and having them in the Garden has been great overall.’’
- Starting Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton is losing playing time to key reserves Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Yesterday, Payton logged his second-lowest minutes total (14:44) in a game in which he was available this year. Vorkonuv wonders if Thibodeau will at some point switch out Quickley or Rose to start, though both players have been excellent bench cogs.