2022 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest participants

Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony, Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green, New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin and Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson will take flight in the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk contest on Saturday, Feb. 19 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. A first-time champion will be crowned as Anthony, Green and Toscano-Anderson are set to make their event debuts, and Toppin returns for his second appearance after finishing as the runner-up last year.

Knicks rookie Obi Toppin excited for preseason debut in MSG

There won’t be fans in the stands at Madison Square Garden tomorrow due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but it’ll still be a very cool experience for Knicks rookie forward Obi Toppin to play his first game there. Via New York Newsday:

“It’s going to be amazing,” Toppin said. “I’m from here. I’ve been watching the Knicks all my life. My family’s been a fan of the Knicks since I wasn’t even born. Me having an opportunity to step on the court with these guys and compete against another team is going to be amazing. I can’t wait for that time to come.

“I think I’ve been to a couple, no more than five games growing up. But my grandfather on my mom’s side had season tickets and he’d go to every game. You go to dinner with him and he’ll tell you a thousand stories of him going there.”

The Knicks went 1-1 in their two preseason games against the Pistons, and on Wednesday and Friday they’ll play a pair against the Cavs.

Knicks sign first round draft pick Obi Toppin

The New York Knicks have signed forward Obi Toppin, the team’s first-round 2020 NBA Draft selection, to his rookie contract.

Toppin, 22, was selected on November 18 by the Knicks with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of the University of Dayton. At college, the 6-9, 220-pound forward averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.23 blocks over 31.6 minutes in 31 games during his sophomore season en route to consensus All-America First Team honors and the 2019-20 Naismith Trophy, awarded to the National Player of the Year. Toppin was the first consensus All-American in Dayton’s history.

The Brooklyn, New York-native was the only player in the nation to average 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and shoot over 60% from the field. He had the best field goal percentage in the last five years of any Division I player who averaged at least 20.0 points per game. The 2019-20 John R. Wooden Award winner helped lead the University of Dayton to 29-wins in the regular season, the most in school history.

Knicks select Obi Toppin with No. 8 pick in 2020 NBA Draft

The 2020 NBA Draft was Wednesday night, and with their lottery-pick selection, the New York Knicks took Obi Toppin. The New York Post:

Dayton’s 6-foot-9 scoring forward fell to No. 8 on Wednesday night, and Knicks president Leon Rose pounced on the National College Player of the Year, whom he nearly traded up to get…

Toppin’s lone weakness is his fire on the defensive end, and the Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau is a defensive coach.

“I learned a lot about Coach through this pandemic,’’ Toppin said of Thibodeau. “I understand he’s a defensive coach, and that’s one of my biggest things I need to work on. He’s going to make sure that I lock in and make sure that I become great one day. I feel like if I get that defensive scheme down, I’m going to be a really good player one day, a really great player one day.’’ …

The 22-year-old Toppin is a Creative Artists Agency client, and Rose had hoped all along he would fall. Rose used to run CAA, and Toppin has been working out with Rose’s first client, Rick Brunson, in South Jersey. Toppin has been compared to Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire, for his explosiveness.

And the New York Times:

When Toppin first walked through the doors at Mt. Zion, he stood 6-foot-5, weighed about 185 pounds and had trouble getting the attention of the best A.A.U. teams in his area. Today he is 6-foot-9, weighs 220 pounds and is the holder of the 2020 John R. Wooden Award for college player of the year after he led the Flyers to a 29-2 record last season.

He shoots from long range and midrange, and slashes to the rim, and he is known to electrify audiences with his innovative and acrobatic dunks.

“I don’t rank his dunks,” said Anthony Grant, the head coach at Dayton, “but he will definitely excite a crowd with his explosiveness, variety and showmanship. He’s fun to watch; must-see TV.”

The Knicks are rebuilding, and hope that Toppin will emerge alongside shooting guard R.J. Barrett and forward/center Mitchell Robinson as a key young building block.