Toppin set to make NBA preseason debut with Knicks after impressing in training camp

Obi Toppin led the way for the Flyers in 2019-20, and now will see his first NBA action Friday night. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

After putting together a historic season at the University of Dayton, Obi Toppin was then selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. Now, he makes his NBA preseason debut against the Detroit Pistons Friday night.

Named National Player of the Year by most deciders, Toppin averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists in 31.7 minutes per game in 2019-20. Over his two years at UD, Toppin shot 64.7 percent from the field, 41.7 from three, and 70.6 percent from the free throw line.

His 2019-20 season was trademarked by ferocious dunks in the Flyers’ incredible season, and now, Toppin will look to take that athleticism into the NBA. Athleticism which has already garnered high praise from a new teammate, veteran guard Austin Rivers.

“Obi Toppin is beyond a freak athlete, like beyond a freak athlete,” Rivers told reporters Dec. 2. “He’s going to be really good. I obviously didn’t get to play against him last year but just seeing him in here, my God.”

New Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau also has high praise for his first draftee as Knicks’ head coach.

“We thought he would be a good fit for us,” Thibodeau said Dec. 1. “We liked his overall talent. We liked the fact that he would be ready to play right away. The big thing for him was the shooting piece of it, the way he can stretch the floor. That will be a big plus for us. The defensive part of it will be something we have to work on. We have to do that as a team. His ability to play multiple positions and put the ball on the floor and make plays, that’s a big asset in today’s NBA.”

Thibodeau also sees a high amount of athleticism from both Toppin and fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley.

“Our two young guys, obviously they have a lot to learn, but in terms of commitment and conditioning, they’re really, really impressive,” said Thibodeau Dec. 10.

R.J. Barrett, No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, has been working out with Toppin during training camp and lauded Toppin’s hard work and skill set.

“Great dude,” Barrett said. “He’s a hard worker, for sure. Very talented. Very athletic. Very versatile. I’m excited to have him on our team. I feel like we’ll play well together.” 

Now, with all the expectations that come with playing in the Big Apple and praise from teammates and his coach on his athleticism and skill set, Toppin faces his first NBA game as the Knicks tip-off their preseason against the Pistons in Detroit Friday night at 7 p.m.

His mom, Roni Toppin, is clearly excited for her older son’s NBA debut based on her latest post on Twitter.

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