Knicks’ Obi Toppin may be demoted in NBA playoffs
23rd May 2021

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The first round of the playoffs might be the tale of two Knicks rookies.

Though combo guard Immanuel Quickley will likely have prominent role off the bench, Knicks lottery pick Obi Toppin may see his minutes reduced, The Post has learned.

Atlanta is expecting less of Toppin as a backup power forward and more minutes from starter Julius Randle and backup center Taj Gibson.

Toppin already was averaging just 11 minutes and had shown more confidence on offense. But the playoffs are a different defensive intensity, and the Knicks are mulling whether to give Gibson extra time at power forward — not just spelling starting center Nerlens Noel. Randle’s minutes also could climb to over 40 minutes.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau could decide to see how Toppin responds to playoff action before making any firm decision, but the rookie from Dayton has been an outstanding teammate and could handle a demotion if it comes.

Thibodeau, according to sources, views Gibson as one of the smartest positional defenders in the NBA and carries in the most playoff experience on the Knicks, with 66 playoff games.

Meanwhile, Quickley will still have an important role as a sniper off the bench. The 25th-overall pick averaged 11.9 points, shooting 38.9 from 3. He’s been fearless all season and can’t wait after missing the NCAA Tournament that was canceled by the pandemic, in March 2020.

“I’m just excited,’’ Quickley said. “I didn’t get to play in the tournament last year, so I’m looking forward to some postseason play. When you play in postseason on any level, the level of intensity is intensified. It’s usually low-scoring and defense. Just watching it all my life, watching the playoffs, it’s always been kind of cool. It’s going to be even more fun to be out there with my teammates.’’

Atlanta’s top pro scout, Stephen Giles, was part of the last Knicks playoff team in 2013 as the advance scout for Mike Woodson’s staff.

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