Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who has averaged just 10.7 minutes per night in six games since returning from a leg injury, is a good candidate to play an increased role with Mitchell Robinson on the shelf due to a broken thumb, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post.
In order to earn those extra minutes though, Toppin recognizes that he has to play better, Botte writes in a separate New York Post story. The former lottery pick has made just 4-of-18 shots since his return and has gone scoreless in three of his last four games.
“I don’t know,” Toppin responded when asked why he thinks he’s struggling. “Just confidence? Shoot the ball when I have open shots, drive the ball when I have to drive the ball. Just play great basketball. It’s just more repetitions in the game. Just having an opportunity to shoot some shots in the game, get that touch again. And I feel like once I get that touch – I’m shooting well in practice, I’m shooting well here, it’s just in the game, having those game looks, finding that rhythm again.”
Of course, while Toppin could play alongside Julius Randle in smaller lineups, the Knicks will also need one or both of Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims to step up in Robinson’s absence. Fred Katz of The Athletic explores what to expect from the team’s two backup centers, noting that – while he’s not the rim protector Robinson is – Sims is a more versatile defender than Hartenstein, with the ability to get out to the perimeter to guard non-bigs.
Here’s more from out of New York:
- A recent report from Michael Scotto indicated the Knicks would like to get two second-round picks back in exchange for Cam Reddish, but Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears from teams in touch with the Knicks that one second-rounder may be enough to get something done. New York’s ability to get draft compensation for Reddish could come down to what sort of player the team is willing to take back for salary-matching purposes.
- Elsewhere on the trade front, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic cites an NBA executive who said earlier this week that he doesn’t believe Immanuel Quickley is “gettable” in a trade anymore, like he was earlier in the season.
- As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes, Isaiah Hartenstein still doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with his role as a center in Tom Thibodeau‘s system, but he did say the Achilles injury that was bothering him earlier in the season has improved. “I feel like I can jump a little bit, dunk the ball a little bit more,” Hartenstein said. “So I think when that keeps getting better and better defensively I’ll feel more confident.”