Obi Toppin is making his NBA preseason debut against high-flying Pistons star Blake Griffin. The 6-foot-9 Knicks rookie stud from Brooklyn has heard the comparisons to Griffin because of their dunking ability.
“He’s a great player, competitive, and I can’t wait to get on the floor with him and learn in the moment,” Toppin said Friday on a Zoom call after the Knicks’ morning shootaround. “So being on the floor with him is going to be amazing. I can’t wait.”
The adjustment to the NBA for Toppin officially begins Friday night at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena when the Knicks play their first of four preseason games.
The Dayton dunk machine has already seen in scrimmages the pace is faster. Those transition dunks that occurred in the Atlantic 10 won’t come as easily in the NBA.
“Everybody knows me for leaking out – or, not leaking out, but getting ahead of the defense on fast breaks – getting open dunks,’’ Toppin said. “I didn’t get not one of those yet, and we had seven or eight practices.
“You’ve got to understand that these guys are pros, and they’re going to do what they have to do to not allow someone else to get an easy bucket. Just little things like that. But you see the different speed that this level plays at, and it’s a lot different from college.’’
Perhaps Toppin, the 2019-20 college player of the year, is trying to lower the massive expectations after being selected No. 8 in the draft last month.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has already stated that Toppin not having a Las Vegas summer league or late-summer scrimmages at the team facility has made it “a challenge.’’
Julius Randle figures to be the Knicks’ starting power forward, and the question is whether Toppin can start at the 3 in a tandem. For now it appears Toppin isn’t playing the 3 in scrimmages.
“I’ve been matched up against Julius Randle — who else?’’ Toppin said of the scrimmages in Tarrytown. “Next, Mitch (Robinson) sometimes. Playing against those guys, they give me a lot of feedback. They’re great guys, especially Jules. He’s been helping me throughout this whole process, getting extra shots up and watching film. He’s been teaching me a lot.’’
Detroit was the last of seven teams to pass on Toppin. The Pistons were known around the league to be fixated on adding a point guard, and they drafted Killian Hayes right before the Knicks picked.
“The teams that passed me up, it doesn’t really affect me because God has a plan for everybody,’’ Toppin said. “He put me here for a reason. I’m with a great coaching staff and great teammates, so I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Toppin, 22, is a late bloomer who finished his high school career at Ossining High in Westchester with scant Division I offers.
“I am confident Obi will make a smooth transition because he has a tremendous support system consisting of his family and close friends,’’ Ossining High coach Michael Carey told The Post.