How a Tom Thibodeau lecture changed things for Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley

LAS VEGAS — After the Knicks were beaten by the Raptors, 89-79, in Sunday’s summer-league opener, Knicks coach Tom Thiibodeau sat down with second-year players Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley for a lecture.

Thibodeau told the 2020 first-round picks they needed to demonstrate more leadership on the UNLV court as they are the veterans of the club, according to a source.

The Knicks bounced back Monday with a 94-86 victory over the Pacers with Quickley and Toppin leading the way. They combined for 54 points in the victory.

Quickley alluded to the leadership he and Toppin need to show on the Summer League team that resumes action Wednesday vs. the Lakers (10 p.m. EST).

“I’ve been around a year,’’ Quickley said. “I’ve been in playoff games. Just continuing to spread my knowledge to the new guys, the young guys. Obi and I are doing a great job understanding we have to help these guys and communicate.’’

After a poor outing in the opener, Quickley reversed himself with a 32-point, eight-assist, one-turnover, two-steal outing. Toppin has been mostly solid while finally getting minutes after a rookie season buried behind Julius Randle at power forward.

Obi Toppin in 2021 Summer League action.
Obi Toppin in 2021 Summer League action.
NBAE via Getty Images

Though the Dayton dunker shot 2-of-10 in the opener from 3, Toppin is averaging 23 points in the two contests with rugged, high-energy, athletic play.

Twice vs. Indiana, Toppin turned misses into putbacks – a la Carmelo Anthony. Toppin was 3-of-6 from 3-point land, too, while maintaining his bullyball inside game.

“I feel I’ve done pretty good,’’ Toppin said. “Guys are just finding me in certain positions. I would like to shoot the 3 a little better. Every day is not going to be perfect. I put in a lot of work this summer. I’ve had a lot of guys helping me out – coaches, players, watching film.’’

Toppin and Quickley missed Summer League last year because of the pandemic. After their rookie year, though, Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto said Toppin and Quickley were back in the gym with coaches two days after the team was bounced in the first round by the Hawks.

Immanuel Quickley after the Knicks' Summer League win over the Pacers.
Immanuel Quickley after the Knicks’ Summer League win over the Pacers.
NBAE via Getty Images

Toppin, selected No. 8 last November, actually had a lively playoff after his subpar regular season, drawing “O-bi’’ chants from the Garden crowd.

“I feel like I’m most focused on my role on the team,” Toppin said when asked what he emphasized this offseason. “I feel like I know my role. I know what I have to work on. I have a lot guys helping me this summer.’’

Toppin also was in Vegas last month with the U.S. Select Team, scrimmaging against the U.S. Olympians.

“It was great having an opportunity to come to Vegas and playing against the best players in the world – Dame Lillard, all those guys,’’ Toppin said. “To work with them and pick up little things, they were talking to me about, it helped me tremendously.’’

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