Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned the group’s current success makes it troublesome to reintegrate third-year ahead Obi Toppin into the rotation now that he has cleared his knee harm.
The Knicks entered Tuesday evening winners of 4 in a row and have been rolling with out Toppin, who has not performed since struggling a non-displaced fracture in his proper fibula head in New York’s Dec. 7 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Doctors cleared Toppin to return to motion on Jan. 4 in opposition to the San Antonio Spurs, however the high-flying ahead has remained glued to the Knick bench.
“I think that if things aren’t going well, you’re more likely to change, but you also don’t wanna disrupt the group, not at the expense of one individual,” Thibodeau mentioned forward of tipoff in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. “I think you wanna incorporate him and get him acclimated again, but not at the expense of the group.”
Thibodeau was noncommittal about enjoying Toppin in opposition to the Bucks.
“We’ll see. We’ll see how it unfolds. Each day, I think more and more — he’s gotten contact now,” he mentioned. “So, just get in there and play well. Handle your minutes well, whether they’re short minutes, long minutes. Doesn’t matter. Play well. That’s the most [important thing] — make the team function well.”
Toppin’s function — and his match alongside Julius Randle — has been a sticking level because the Knicks chosen him eighth general within the 2020 NBA Draft. Toppin is averaging the identical variety of minutes per recreation (17) as Randle’s backup as final season, however whereas his three-point taking pictures has improved 4% year-over-year, he’s averaging fewer factors and is taking pictures 11% worse from the sphere.
The Knicks tried to play Toppin in minutes alongside Randle earlier within the season, however the experiment failed. Randle’s improved play has additionally performed a task in retaining Toppin glued to the bench.
The star ahead has averaged 28.3 factors per recreation because the starting of December and has scored lower than 25 factors in simply three video games throughout that stretch.
He’s additionally averaging near 40 minutes, making it troublesome to seek out room for Toppin in a rotation that depends so closely on Randle’s manufacturing. It doesn’t assist issues for Toppin that the Knicks have gained 11 of the 16 video games they’ve performed since he sustained his harm.
Thibodeau prompt Toppin’s time will come, although there’s no telling when. Until then, the fan favourite should keep prepared till his quantity is known as.
”We ask everybody to make sacrifices for the group first, so we’re all the time gonna do what’s finest for the group,” he mentioned. “Be ready. We need everyone, and when we had the injuries and guys went out, other guys came in and played well. So, we’re always gonna prioritize the team, but Obi can add a lot to our team. So, whatever opportunities you get, get in there and play well.”