Given the team’s impressive result last season, there’s undoubtedly a contingent of the Knicks fan base that is craving some kind of big, win-now move; sustained success at all costs. Others, however, would preach patience and an abundance of caution in order to avoid the personnel pitfalls of previous regimes.
With a little over a week remaining until the deadline hits, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale did his best to identify the most pressing needs for every team in the Association. As relates to the Knicks, he suggested that the best move may be the clearing out of a middling veteran or two.
As he sees it, there are young players on the team’s roster right now that likely have a whole lot more to offer.
Toppin, Others Need to Be Unleashed
Favale’s proposition isn’t hard to follow — the Knicks have capable vets, but some of those players are taking opportunity away from young talent like Obi Toppin who, despite his growth, has played a relatively meager role on the court this season:
The Knicks have a ton of guys who warrant floor time. That’s the problem. Catering to vets and an ostensibly deep roster is cool when you’re winning. The Knicks are not. They’re 11th in the East, and you don’t get a participation trophy for earning a play-in spot. It’s time to free up more minutes for the kids.
Favale further opined that “Toppin’s usage is criminal,” noting that the former eighth overall pick has averaged just 13.1 minutes per game since New York’s January 2 loss to the Raptors.
Considering Toppin’s upside and current level of output, that’s probably a spot-on assessment of the way in which Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is currently using him. Per 36 minutes, the 23-year-old is putting up 17.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals.
Meanwhile, he’s shooting 54.1% from the floor and has the top net rating among New York’s rotation regulars. It’s a huge number, too — when Toppin is on the court, the Knicks are outscoring opponents by 10.6 points per 100 possessions.
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And, Again, There’s Cam to Consider
As mentioned here previously, Reddish could obviously benefit from the team’s pruning as well. Added Favale:
And then there’s Cam Reddish. He’s averaging under seven minutes, with two DNPs, through the five games he’s been active. Implementing new players is tough at midseason. You also don’t give up a future first, of any kind, just to not play someone.
That’s too true, of course, and if the Knicks have to part with some old faves who aren’t really moving the needle for the 23-27 club to open up time, so be it.