NBA draft: Knicks bypass Tyrese Haliburton, land NCAA Player of the Year Obi Toppin with No. 8 pick

Jason Owens
·2 min read

The New York Knicks landed college basketball’s biggest star from last season, selecting Dayton’s Obi Toppin with the No. 8 pick in Wednesday’s NBA draft.

Toppin rose from an unheralded prospect and redshirt freshman at Dayton in 2017 to a consensus All-American and Associated Press National Player of the Year in 2020. He also won the Naismith and Wooden awards for a sweep of the player of the year honors. He was in tears on Wednesday when he learned that he’d become an NBA lottery pick.

The Knicks bypassed Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton to select Toppin. Haliburton was rated by many as the top prospect remaining on the board when the Knicks selected and would have filled a backcourt need in New York. The Sacramento Kings selected Haliburton at No. 12.

Dayton's Obi Toppin (1) reacts to teammates in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Obi Toppin is a Knick. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

What Obi Toppin brings to Knicks

The Knicks instead landed a 6-foot-9 power forward who can thrive in the pick-and-roll at the NBA level. They also selected a Brooklyn native and one of the most polished players in the draft with the 22-year-old Toppin. The Knicks coveted Toppin and were happy to see him still available at No. 8, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Toppin averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 63.3 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore in 2020. He led the Flyers to a 29-2 record that would have likely landed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament had it not been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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