Obi Toppin excited for fresh start and fit in Indy as he joins NBA's best transition team
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle likes how Toppin fits both the template and timeline of what they’re doing.
LAS VEGAS — Obi Toppin needed a change of scenery. That much has been obvious over the last year as his minutes dropped with the New York Knicks, frustration built up and he needed to go elsewhere.
He needed the freedom to be him, to play his game and have the opportunity to earn more regular minutes.
Playing behind Julius Randle, who played in all but five games last season and averaged almost 36 minutes per game, Toppin found himself on the outside and craving a real opportunity.
That should come in Indianapolis where the Pacers have lacked a true power forward for years. You have to go back to Thad Young in 2019. That was three head coaches ago.
“I feel like this fresh start for me is gonna be great just because it’s something new I’m going into,” Toppin said on Sunday. “It’s a bunch of great players, coaches, everybody. I can’t wait to get started, get down in Indy and get it started.”
Toppin carried additional expectations with him when he joined the Knicks in 2020. He was the national college player of the year in 2020 at Dayton, then the 8th overall pick taken by the Knicks and thus returning to his home state.
He's from nearby in Brooklyn and young players being at home early in their career rarely is a positive thing. The hype, the demands and the pressure of performing and taking care of others at home. That had to wear on him.