Objectively, rookie guard Immanuel Quickley looked like a lock for coach Tom Thibodeau, who was just a rotator this season. And then they started playing games, and a funny thing happened: He quickly became a stumbling block for the New York Knicks.
In two draft agreements regarding their late picks, New York got the 25th pick. He was selected by the NBA, which earned him the title of SEC 2019-20 Player of the Year (Immanuel Quickley). The product from Kentucky was completely stolen.
In just 18.5 minutes of play, Immanuel Quickley is averaging 11.6 points per game, shooting 37.9% from beyond the arc and 95.2% from the penalty line. It is efficiency at the highest level.
Immanuel does a little bit of everything quickly. He’s an outside jumper with probable speed given his range, he takes what the defense gives him, he can create fouls, he’s a skilled passer, a well balanced defender and he rarely hands the ball over.
That’s a lot, and Immanuel Quickly is at least competent in all these areas.
He plays like a seasoned veteran and is a respectable force on both ends of the field. Every time he comes into a game, it’s like he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe some of that information came from the story surrounding his drawings?
Immanuel Quickly, like two-thirds of the Knicks, was either in the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) client category (team president Leon Rose recently headed up a division of the agency) or had ties to the University of Kentucky.
It was the last for Immanuel Quickley, who coached current Knicks assistant Kenny Payne during his two seasons at Kentucky. Whatever the merits of this link, Quickley played his selection (25).
In this case, the sticky story around the team’s office is irrelevant. They have found and developed a player who can be the backbone of the rotation.
Immanuel Quickly has no fixed position. He looks more like a combo guard than a true guard of one or two. He plays well with the ball and has several tools to lead the offense. Coming off the bench, he’s the main catalyst for the second unit. But he can certainly replace the captain in case of injury.
Immanuel Quickly had two great offensive performances last week. Friday night, he scored 25 points in 25 minutes en route to the Knicks’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers (21 points). Last Sunday, he chipped in 31 points in 24 minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers, helping the Knicks cut their 25-point deficit to three, although the team’s comeback attempt failed.
Thibodeau continues to rely on Elfrid Payton as the starting point guard, while Quickley is one of the first players to come off the bench. With Payton, a veteran whose contract is expiring, and Immanuel Quickley just getting on the field, the bet is a sure thing: the rookie will continue to play off the bench while Payton helps set up a five-game win streak. With 9/11, New York is on track for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Quickley’s play also helped alleviate Obi Toppin’s problems, stemming from an early calf injury that kept him sidelined for 10 games and a season in which Julius Randle was an All-Star, leaving Toppin on the bench. Someone who knows the fundamentals of Immanuel Quickly can only be more productive with minutes and age. No need to rush.
Some have wondered if the Knicks wouldn’t have been better off taking Tyrese Haliburton from Iowa State instead of Toppin with the eighth pick in the draft. While the draft choice can be questioned, Immanuel Quickley made the Knicks’ decision to move a point guard to the eighth irrelevant. He’s promising and the Knicks could get Toppin on the right track as the season progresses. In a few years they will be able to look back on their 2020 crop as a collection of players who have impressed.
The Knicks’ young core is rounded out by Immanuel Quickly. RJ Barrett has been more productive and offensive this season, while Mitchell Robinson has taken the starting midfield position and Kevin Knox has shot an impressive 39.1% from beyond the arc.
Give the Knicks a young guard soon who will be enthusiastic, something the organization desperately needs to supplement the youth it already has. Over time, he can run the show, find his teammates in their hot spots and be the player the team needs to plan the game.
With players like Barrett, Quickley, Robinson, Toppin and Knox, Thibodeau has something planned for his squad. There is a remarkable bond between the two teams, who compete and fight each other as frequent contenders in the playoffs. The rookie guard is one of the main reasons for this game.
You could say Immanuel Quickly is the best thing the Knicks have besides Barrett. He was so good.
The Knicks have found a surprisingly shiny hidden gem in Immanuel Quickley.