Knicks' Obi Toppin discusses his confidence boost, help from veteran teammates

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Ryan Morik
·2 min read
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Obi Toppin high-fiving Knicks teammates in blue jerseys
Obi Toppin high-fiving Knicks teammates in blue jerseys

In his last 14 games, Obi Toppin is shooting 53.5 percent (23-for-43) from the field, a decent uptick from his .474 field-goal percentage in his first 38 games.

If you take away his first three games, where he knocked down just three of 14 shots (12 of those misses game on opening night), Toppin is making just over half his field goals.

His minutes are still down, averaging just 9.3 minutes per contest since April 2, but the eighth overall pick from the 2020 NBA Draft is gaining more confidence, and his teammates have helped him along the way.

“I just feel like my team has a lot of confidence in me. I’m starting to have more confidence in myself, and I’m just going up there playing basketball," Toppin told reporters on Tuesday. "I’m putting in the work every single day, and I got people around me that’s pushing me to be better every single day, so I’m gonna continue to work hard and learn everything and get better.

“I just feel like I’m just learning every day. I’m in the gym every day, and doing extra film every single day, just to not only help me but to help the team. I feel like if I’m coming in in the second unit, and I’m doing everything I have to do to help the team put points on the board, or get a defensive stop, I feel like that’s always gonna be good. Anything I can do to help the team win, I’m gonna continue doing."

Toppin added that veteran teammates like Derrick Rose, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, and Reggie Bullock have kept feeding him advice since the season started.

"Derrick’s a great vet, and he knows the right plays," said Toppin. "He talks to me before and after every single game and tells me little things that’s gonna help me in the long run. ... Little things like that, D talking to me before and after games, is helping me as well.

"All those guys are helping the young guys every single day just because they know what we’re about to go up against."

Toppin was a lottery pick in November -- roughly five months later, he and the Knicks are on the brink of clinching the franchise's first playoff berth since the 2012-13 season.

But it's a one day at a time mentality for New York, as they embark on a six-game road trip following Wednesday's contest against the Chicago Bulls.

"We’re about to go into this long road trip, and we’re still not done. We still got 10 games left that we gotta win, and then we got playoffs," Toppin said. "But right now, we’re focused on the next day, getting better, and learning and helping our team win.”