Obi Toppin, NBA Slam Dunk Contest Winner, Sidelined 2-3 Weeks
New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin, the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Champion, will miss at least two to three weeks with a fractured kneecap.
Toppin suffered the right kneecap injury during the Knicks victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. He scored three points in eight minutes of action, but exited the game early and never returned.
On Thursday, team doctors diagnosed Toppin with a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula head.
The Knicks won two games in a row to improve to 12-13 this season as the last-place team in the Atlantic Division. If the season ended today, the Knicks could qualify for the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament as the ninth-place team.
The Knicks are long shots to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +30000 odds, according to DraftKings. In Atlantic Division odds, the Knicks are +25000 to win the division for the first time since 2012-13.
Obi Toppin sustained a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula head during last night’s game against Atlanta. He will be revaluated in 2-3 weeks.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 8, 2022
Fan-Favorite Toppin Sidelined Rest of 2022
Toppin is a valuable member of the Knicks’ high-energy second unit, along with Immanuel Quickley, which, at times, played significantly better than the starting five. That’s much to the dismay of faithful fans at Madison Square Garden. Toppin grew up in Brooklyn, and played his high school ball in the suburban town of Ossining, New York.
In 25 games off the bench this season, Toppin averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He worked on his 3-point shot in the off-season, and improved to 35% from beyond the arc, compared to 30% in his first two seasons.
Last year, fans caught a glimpse of what Toppin could do if he were the starting power forward instead of Julius Randle. When Randle missed the final two weeks of the season with an injury, Toppin played the best stretch of his career averaging 20.3 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in 10 games as a starter.
The Knicks selected Toppin with the #8 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Toppin was an All-American at Dayton, averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He was also named the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year in the 2019-20 season.
Toppin led Dayton to a 29-2 record and a #3 national ranking during his sophomore season. Dayton never got a chance to compete in a national championship after the NCAA canceled the 2020 March Madness tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last season, Toppin made a name for himself with his high-flying acrobatics during the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest.
Desperate Thibs Shuffling the Deck
Last month, there was no shortage of rumors swirling around Gotham that suggested the Knicks were on the verge of firing head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Knicks embarked on a five-game road trip against top teams in the Western Conference under the assumption that the team could return to New York without their head coach. With Thibodeau in the hot seat, the Knicks went 3-2 on that road trip and pulled even with a 9-9 record, which saved Thibodeau’s job through the end of 2022.
The Knicks struggled since the end of that western swing by losing four out of their next five games. Thibodeau shuffled his starting lineup and bench rotation to spark the team. For a second December in a row, Thibodeau benched a starting backcourt player. Last year, Kemba Walker was demoted to the end of the bench. This season, Thibodeau benched struggling shooting guard Evan Fournier (6.9 ppg). Quentin Grimes (6.8 ppg), who excelled for the Knicks during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, replaced Fournier in the starting lineup.
During the last week, Cam Reddish (8.4 ppg) lost his spot in the rotation in favor of rarely-used Miles McBride (1.8 ppg). Big man Jericho Sims (4.5 ppg, 4.6 rebounds) also saw his playing time diminish after he fell out of the good graces of Thibodeau.
With Toppin out, there’s a chance that Reddish or Sims returns to the rotation off the bench. Otherwise, starting small forward RJ Barrett could see more time with the second unit as the power forward.