New York Knicks: Obi Toppin hasn’t changed, the team has adjusted

New York Knicks; Obi Toppin

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 24: Obi Toppin #1 of the New York Knicks reacts against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on October 24, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

There is a perception around the league that the New York Knicks should give Obi Toppin more minutes in the immediate future. Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post stated on November 18th that the team should give Toppin more minutes because he shot 66.7 percent from the field against Orlando on nine shots, which allowed him to generate 14 points during that game.

Let’s take a look at the difference between how the New York Knicks are using Obi Toppin this season as compared to last season

New York Knicks: Obi Toppin hasn’t changed, the team has adjusted

Although Vaccaro has the correct statistics, Toppin’s success this season goes beyond one good game, as the team has decided to tweak his role. Toppin was a player coming out of college who excelled near the basket.

He made more than 81.5 percent of his shots in the restricted area in two seasons at Dayton University, on 6.1 attempts per game. Toppin’s success in the restricted area allowed him to generate 9.8 points per game, 57.3 percent of his scoring output.

His success in the restricted area was not a fluke, as he shot 67.8 percent in that area during his rookie season on 1.5 shots per game. Toppin generated 2 points per game in the restricted area last season, nearly half of his production.

Although Toppin continued to have success near the basket, he didn’t spend as much time in that area as he needed to, because he spent most of his time standing behind the three-point line as a floor spacer.

For example, Toppin stood on the left wing early in the second quarter of a road game against the Pacers. He remained there until Julius Randle passed him the ball from the left block. Once Toppin got the ball, he shot and missed a three to end the possession.

These types of offensive sets led Toppin to spend 35.8 percent of his possessions last season in the spot-up shooter role, averaging 1.4 per game. Unfortunately, Toppin struggles as a spot-up shooter, only converting 38.8 percent of his attempts on 1.3 shots per game.

Toppin has spent less time in the spot-up shooter role this season, as the offensive set only accounts for 26.4 percent of his possessions, and he is averaging 1.9 per game. Toppin has continued to struggle even though he’s spending less time in the role, shooting 37 percent on 1.6 shots per game.

Fortunately for Toppin, the decrease of his time in the spot-up shooter role has led to him being around the basket more often this season. Toppin has attempted 3.3 shots per game in the restricted area this season, a 94.1 percent increase from the first 17 games of last year. He has continued to flourish near the basket, making 76.8 percent of his shots, which has allowed him to create five points per game.

New York has allowed Toppin to get close to the basket in two different ways, as a cutter and in transition. Toppin has spent 15.7 percent of his possessions in the cutter role averaging 1.1 per game, shooting 73.3 percent from the field on 0.9 shots per game. He has averaged 1.6 points per game as a cutter, 20.5 percent of his scoring output.

He has supplemented his success as a cutter with transition possessions, as he has spent 21.5 percent of his time within that offensive set averaging 1.5 per game. He has shot 71.4 percent on 1.2 shots per game. Toppin has produced 2.3 points in transition this season, 29.5 percent of his scoring output.

In conclusion, Toppin’s success is related to the New York Knicks accentuating his strengths, which they didn’t do last season.