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Knicks' Tom Thibodeau Not Concerned About Obi Toppin Slump: Very Confident in Him

Adam WellsNovember 25, 2022

New York Knicks' Obi Toppin plays during an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin has the support of his head coach amid his struggles during the team's recent Western Conference road trip.

Tom Thibodeau told reporters he's "very confident" in Toppin's ability to turn things around.

"I trust his process," Thibodeau said. "He’s very diligent. I think he has a strategy for everything. He’s put a lot of time into his shooting. Players go through things like that, but he can help us in a lot of different ways. Just the way he moves the ball, the way he runs the floor, gets some rebounds. But I’m very confident in his ability."

The third-year forward looked like he took a significant step forward to start this season. He was averaging 10.0 points on 49.1 percent shooting (42.4 percent from three-point range) and 4.1 rebounds per game through his first 14 games.

Things took a turn for Toppin starting on Nov. 16 against the Denver Nuggets. The Dayton alum has scored a total of 13 points on 5-of-28 shooting (2-of-15 from behind the arc) in the past four games.

The Knicks have gone 2-2 in those games, with wins over the Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Toppin saw his usage increase across the board in 2021-22. He averaged 9.0 points on 53.1 percent shooting and 3.7 rebounds per game. His usage rate has dipped slightly to 20.0 percent this season after it was up at 20.8 percent last season.

New York's front office made aggressive moves during the offseason to make the roster better for the 2022-23 campaign. Jalen Brunson has been solid, averaging 20.8 points and 6.7 assists per game.

The Knicks are currently 9-9 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Toppin's development will be critical for this team to be a playoff contender because of what he offers as a 6'9" shooter off the bench.

Based on how well Toppin played for the first 14 games of the season, Thibodeau's confidence in his 24-year-old power forward should be rewarded when he gets back in rhythm.