Brian Scalabrine played 11 years in the NBA, but as he noted in an appearance on Moose & Maggie on Wednesday, “I’d have been out of the league in 11 minutes if it wasn’t for Jason Kidd and how much better he made me.”
And that ideal – the need for a facilitator to make an offensively-minded big man that much better – is why he says Obi Toppin, the Knicks’ No. 8 overall pick, “could be a disappointment.”
“Here’s the problem: Obi Toppin is excellent playing in vertical spacing, and he has great hands like Amar’e Stoudemire – and the Dayton Flyers were one of the better passing teams in college basketball, and he really took advantages of that,” Scalabrine said. “But, with the current roster the Knicks have, they’re the 30th-best passing team in the NBA. I don’t think they move the ball well, and Obi Toppin is now forced to do something his skill set is not. If they go out and get a point guard that can move the ball and hit that pocket pass on the roll, he can put a ton of pressure on the defense – but if they don’t get some better playmakers on that team, Obi Toppin is going to be a disappointment.”
A situation, Scalabrine says, where college stats and success don’t always predicate future success.
“It’s one of those things where he’s a good player who shot 64 percent, but look at some of those shots,” Scalabrine said. “A lot of those shots were based off of great playmaking and up-tempo plays, and good decision making. I’m curious what the Knicks will do, but he’ll succeed as far as the ball moves.”
Scalabrine noted Toppin’s room for improvement in saying that “Stoudemire was good with Stephon Marbury, but he was phenomenal with Steve Nash.” And, he says, it’s good that Toppin already recognized how important team is to his success based on thanking his teammates last night.
“That’s great that he can recognize and realize it’s not just about him, but about the way Dayton played,” Scalabrine said. “I think he can be a very impactful player for years to come, but he could still be a disappointment if the pressure starts to build and no one gets the guys easy looks.”
And that is where Scal referenced Jason Kidd, and how important having a facilitator is to someone with a skill set like Toppin’s.
“From my perspective, I was drafted by the Nets and carved out an 11-year career – but I would’ve been out of the league in 11 minutes if it wasn’t for Jason Kidd and how much better he made me,” Scalabrine said. “I’m not comparing myself to Obi Toppin, but I’m saying that he’s the type of player that’s going to need guys to set him up. That’s good in the NBA, but the Knicks have to go out and get those guys, because they don’t have them right now.”
The Knicks did jettison six players later on Thursday, so perhaps a first step?
Scalabrine also had some thoughts on the Nets’ draft moves and the Knicks’ later pick of Immanuel Quickley, so check out his entire segment with Moose & Maggie below!