Thursday, December 9 2021
Immanuel Quickley treated image, holding basketball with greyed out court in background

Immanuel Quickley treated image, holding basketball with greyed out court in background

In what’s been an otherwise disappointing stretch for the Knicks since starting the season 5-1, Immanuel Quickley is blossoming.

The second-year guard has once again electrified The Garden and his teammates, performing well enough to earn himself a spot in a sputtering starting lineup should they continue to struggle.

It was evident during the Summer League that Quickley spent the offseason rounding out the finer parts of his game. He looked much more decisive and capable of creating for others offensively, plus more adept defensively.

Quickley entered the season without a clear path towards increased playing time or ball control, with Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker ahead of him on the depth chart. An early shooting slump impeded his impact and led to some early substitutions.

IQ shot 30 percent from the field and 23 percent from deep through nine games. He cracked 15 minutes in fewer than half of those games, finishing just one contest in double figures.

Still, the improvements were evident as Quickley attempted at-the-rim finishes and passes we rarely saw in his rookie year. Defensively, he took better advantage of his active feet and quickness to cut off dribble attacks and upped his steal rate.

As the starters began floundering in November, Quickley (along with the rest of the bench) stepped up to pick up the slack. His jumper returned to form, whether via catch-and-shoot or isolation step-back.

In the eight games since, Quickley has hit double figures in six of them. He’s hitting 47 percent of his field goals and 46 percent of his threes, even closing many of these games at the point.

The scoring is still very Quickley-esque, by means of three ball or floater for the most part. His repertoire has grown, though.

Quickley’s mastered a number of scoop layups where he can sky the ball high off the glass over taller defenders or body-block them with his back on his way to the rim. He’s now multidimensional in his in-between finishing, and despite the NBA’s new officiating rule is still getting to the line at a similar rate.

Nov 10, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsNov 10, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 10, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Quickley’s handle is also tighter and better meshes with his bursts of speed and change in momentum. He blows by defenders more often than he did last season, especially on switches where he appears better equipped to attack bigs.

Having Quickley’s scoring punch back and better than ever is huge, but what ultimately might make him a starter is everything else.

Many pegged Quickley as a forever combo or shooting guard, which he may have taken to heart. Quickley is now a consistent threat to find the open man, especially in pick-and-roll. He has great lob chemistry with his bigs and is able to find the weak-side corner shooter.

Defensively, Quickley may be atop the rotation when it comes to guarding ones. He’s closed many games despite Walker or Rose putting up equally strong offensive outings, and is constantly at 100 percent effort on that end.

The same can’t be said for his counterparts, who are beginning to look like his backups. Track Quickley’s last eight games against Walker’s and Rose’s and it’s not pretty.

New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) dribbles during an NBA Summer League game against the Toronto Raptors at Thomas & Mack Center.New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) dribbles during an NBA Summer League game against the Toronto Raptors at Thomas & Mack Center.

New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) dribbles during an NBA Summer League game against the Toronto Raptors at Thomas & Mack Center.

After finishing in double-digit scoring through his first seven games, Walker has managed to do so only twice in his last ten. He’s shot 25 percent from three in that latter stretch, constantly being picked on defensively as well. Rose’s deep ball also isn’t falling like it was.

Of course, these slumps tend to occur over the course of an NBA season and are no more or less valid than Quickley’s to start the year. Things should normalize for all these guards, but when the dust settles it may be Quickley taking over the reins.

As mentioned, Quickley has been the superior defender. He has the lowest turnover rate of the three but creates for others on par with the veterans. He’s the biggest threat from three, gets to the free throw line more, and has the highest efficiency in isolations.

If those things continue to be true, there’s little reason not to promote Quickley, even if Walker and Rose regain their footing. Either way, the Knicks owe many of their recent victories to the sensational sophomore, whom the fans are watching develop before their eyes.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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