Knicks shed selection blues under Leon Rose for rare NBA Draft wins

Knicks Immanuel Quickley
After taking Obi Toppin, the Knicks acquired Kentucky’s Immanuel Quickley.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Draft night has often been a horror show for the New York Knicks over the last few decades.

Under new president Leon Rose, that wasn’t the case on Wednesday night.

With their No. 8 pick, the Knicks saw Dayton star and consensus All-American, Obi Toppin, fall into their laps after he was initially slated to go in the top-five.

The high-flying forward’s acquisition was followed by some wheeling and dealing with the Knicks flipping the No. 27 pick to the No. 23 pick, before moving back two spots for the 25th selection, all while gaining another selection at No. 33. With that No. 33 pick, they sent Daniel Oturu to the Los Angeles Clippers for a second-round selection in 2023.

For all that, the Knicks came away with two players: Toppin and Kentucky point guard Immanuel Quickley.

Nabbing Toppin immediately provides the Knicks with a starting option at the power forward spot, providing more youth to their frontcourt that could realistically feature Kevin Knox and the small forward position, Toppin at the 4, and Mitchell Robinson at center.

It is worth noting that Toppin possesses the versatility to play both forward positions and even the center position at times in a smaller lineup, pairing a surprisingly strong outside game with his affluent interior play. In 64 games at Dayton, he shot 41.7% from three-point range.

“As one of the highest-ranked players on our draft board, Obi was someone we really coveted. He’s an explosive athlete and one of the most dynamic players in college basketball, which earned him the Naismith Player of the Year honors,” Rose said after the draft. “Just as importantly, he’s also a high character individual with a tremendous work ethic. We look forward to a bright future with him and are excited to bring a native New Yorker home to The Garden.”

Obi Toppin Knicks
Obi Toppin fell to the Knicks at eighth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Adding Quickley provides another point-guard-of-the-future project for the Knicks, but the Kentucky project — who has worked under Knicks assistant Kenny Payne — is the exact kind of talent the Knicks have been looking for.

The 21-year-old is the three-point shooting, high-scoring threat that Frank Ntilikina simply has not developed into. Neither has Dennis Smith Jr., who very well could be departing Manhattan sooner rather than later.

“It’s unbelievable,” Quickley said of working with Payne again. “He was one of those coaches that really pushed me on and off the floor. He’s one of those guys that’s going to hold you accountable, make sure you almost try to quit at practice, so the game comes easy.’’

Quickley was voted the SEC’s player of the year last season, averaging 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game his sophomore year while shooting 42.8 % from three-point range.

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