Former Knicks forward Obi Toppin sets high bar for fresh Pacers start

Remember Obi Toppin? The player the New York Knicks drafted with the No. 8 pick in 2020? The player that averaged only 14.7 minutes per game in his three seasons in New York? Yeah, that Obi Toppin.

After being traded three months ago, Toppin had his first Media Day with the Pacers on Monday. In true Obi fashion, he was already joking around with his new teammates and crashed a Tyrese Haliburton interview.

The Indiana media will have a lot of fun with Toppin, and fans will be drawn to the energy he plays with on the court. With Haliburton and Toppin running in transition, Gainbridge Fieldhouse may never be the same.

That’s what Toppin is preparing for, at least. In this instance, Toppin plans to channel his inner Blake Griffin and catch lobs from Haliburton, otherwise known as Chris Paul.

Former Knicks forward Obi Toppin dubs Pacers as ‘Lob City’ entering 2023-24

The 2023-24 season should be Obi Toppin’s best yet, but that isn’t saying much. He averaged 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds with the Knicks, and Tom Thibodeau struggled to highlight Toppin’s strengths. The Pacers got Toppin for a cheap price (two second-round picks, to be exact) and could help to turn the 25-year-old into the player Knicks fans thought he’d be in 2020.

After being behind Julius Randle in New York, Toppin will have the chance to be Indiana’s starting power forward. Although it was a small sample size, he did well in that role for the Knicks.

Aspects of Toppin’s game need to improve, specifically shooting and crashing the boards. One thing he can do is dunk, though, so he and Haliburton should be regulars in NBA highlight reels.

A fresh start is what Obi Toppin needed, and he got one. It’ll be bittersweet to watch him throw it down in MSG for the opposing team but prepare for that to happen on Feb. 1 when the Pacers visit the Knicks.