A teary Brooklyn homecoming took place Wednesday in the NBA draft. Obi Toppin is a Knick. Dayton’s 6-9 scoring forward fell to No. 8 and Knicks president Leon Rose pounced on the National College
A teary Brooklyn homecoming took place Wednesday in the NBA draft.
Obi Toppin is a Knick.
Dayton’s 6-9 scoring forward fell to No. 8 and Knicks president Leon Rose pounced on the National College Player of the Year he nearly traded up to get.
The Post reported in Wednesday’s editions the possibility of Toppin, long expected to be taken at No. 5 by Cleveland, could fall to 8.
And the Cavaliers obliged by taking Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro. That set the stage for the Flyers forward to drop.
After the selection, Toppin was in tears and got choked up as he was interviewed by ESPN.
“I’m from New York, that’s why it’s important, I’m not going to take it for granted,” Toppin said through tears.
“I had the God-given blessing to be No. 8, and go to my hometown, which was New York,’’ he said. “Me being in this position is a blessing.”
Toppin’s lone weakness is his fire on the defensive end and Tom Thibodeau is a defensive coach.
“I learned a lot about Coach through this pandemic,’’ Toppin said. “I understand he’s a defensive coach, and that’s one of my biggest things I need to work on. He’s going to make sure that I lock in and make sure that I become great one day. I feel like if I get that defensive scheme down, I’m going to be a really good player one day, a really great player one day.’’
The 22-year-old Toppin is a Creative Artists Agency client and Rose has coveted him. Rose used to run CAA and Toppin has been working out with Rose’s first client Rick Brunson in South Jersey. He’s been compared to Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire with his explosiveness.
In a statement, Rose said, “As one of the highest ranked players on our draft board, Obi was someone we really coveted. He’s an explosive athlete and one of the most dynamic players in college basketball. Just as importantly, he’s also a high character individual with a tremendous work ethic. We look forward to a bright future with him and are excited to bring a native New Yorker home to The Garden.”
During the pandemic, Toppin said he watched a lot of Anthony Davis and Stoudemire. “I try to mimic my game after Anthony Davis and he has a lot of tools on the offensive and defensive side,’’ Toppin said on a Zoom call. “I’ll have to work a lot on the defensive to be as efficient as Anthony Davis is. But I feel offensively I study what he does and I watch a lot of his film.’’
Toppin’s is a Cinderella, rags-to-riches story – a late bloomer who grew eight inches from his junior year of high school until freshman year of college.
Toppin became the most exciting player in college basketball and led small-school Dayton to a No. 3 ranking as he won player of he year awards. He didn’t have a single scholarship offer coming out of Ossining High in Westchester.
According to sources, the Knicks talked to the Cavaliers about swapping the 8th and 5th picks in the 2020 NBA Draft by dangling their newly acquired 23rd selection. But Rose held firm.
With point guard Killian Hayes off the board after Detroit took him at No. 7, it was a no-brainer for the Knicks.
The Athletic reported the Cavaliers want more in a swap and it backfired.
For months, Toppin was penciled in at No. 5 with Cleveland planning to keep the Dayton forward in Ohio.
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On Wednesday morning, the Knicks traded their 38h pick and 27th pick to Utah to move up in the draft to 23. There are various reasons for the move, sources said.
The Knicks have a slew of young players already and bringing in three rookies with the quick turnaround and the possibility of not having a G League season is one of them.
The Knicks had a COVID-19 outbreak at their team facility and closed it down for a week after three staffers tested positive. The Knicks reopened the facility Tuesday and staged a socially distanced war room in Tarrytown Wednesday night – armed with two draft picks instead of three.