Expectations entering a new season are always sky-high for every NBA franchise, but for the New York Knicks, expectations are always high at any point in the season.
Success and competing at the highest-level possible is what New York expects from all of their teams in any sport, but these two things have been hard to come by for the Knicks for what seems like a very long time.
You have to go all the way back to 2000 to find the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals and since then, this franchise has been to the playoffs in just 6 of the last 22 seasons, winning only one playoff series.
One of the league’s most historic franchises, the Knicks still find themselves juggling expectations from reality and they have not been able to find a balance through the years, especially through the NBA Draft.
Failing to win at least 40 games from the start of the 2013-14 season through the 2019-20 season, one would think that the Knicks would have found enough youthful talent to change the trajectory of this organization, yet this has not been the case and internal struggles between management and ownership continue to loom large over New York.
While the Knicks are still searching for answers heading into the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season, there is definitely a lot of potential on their roster.
Recently signed Jalen Brunson is a 26-year-old guard that the team is very hopeful for long-term, Immanuel Quickley is a young guard that has shown a ton of promise through his first two seasons in the league and perhaps the player with the highest ceiling on this roster, besides RJ Barrett, is Obi Toppin.
Drafted eighth overall by the Knicks in 2020, Toppin entered the league as a high-flying and very athletic forward that had fans of this organization extremely excited. Well, the former top-tier pick is preparing for his third season in the league and really has not been given an opportunity to prove his worth to the Knicks, something that must change if this franchise is to be competitive whatsoever moving forward.
Obi Toppin is a 6-foot-9 power forward that definitely still needs time to mature and grow his skillset in this league, but his athletic abilities are something you cannot teach, nor is his ability to electrify the crowd in Madison Square Garden, the best venue in the NBA, each and every night.
With All-Star forward Julius Randle out the final ten games of the 2021-22 season, Obi Toppin stepped up for the Knicks and not only showed them glimpses of what the future could hold, but what their present could look like if they would simply buy into what Toppin is selling.
In these final ten games, the 24-year-old forward averaged 20.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in about 30.3 minutes per game. He also shot 57.7 percent from the floor and 44.8 percent from three-point range in this span, easily proving that he has what it takes to be the “x-factor” for the New York Knicks moving forward.
“I’m ready whenever my name is called just like every other player, so whenever my name is called I am going to try and give 110 [percent] every day,” Toppin said recently during Knicks training camp. “Whatever they need me to do out there on the court, I am going to do it to the best of my abilities… Yeah, I am just ready whenever.”
Spending a ton of time working on his game on both ends of the floor this offseason, it is very clear to see that Toppin wants his chance to prove himself further and given that the Knicks have made the playoffs just once in the last nine seasons, they truly have nothing to lose.
The Eastern Conference is going to be extremely competitive this upcoming season and with none of the eight teams that made the playoffs last year regressing this offseason, the Knicks have a very small margin for error entering the year.
Improving defensively seems like the main skill in which the team’s staff would like to see from Toppin heading into his third season, but he is the key to this team’s success whether they like it or not.
Energy and scoring are the two things the Knicks lacked a season ago and they are the two main things that Obi Toppin brings with him each and every game.
Continuing to have Toppin sit at the end of the bench does nothing to improve the New York Knicks chances of winning and if he is not the team’s “sixth man” at the very least this upcoming year, the Knicks might as well start preparing for the 2023 NBA Draft because they will end up missing the playoffs yet again.