As the Knicks’ forgettable season winds down without a playoff berth, some fans have found hope for the future in the team’s young core of up-and-comers — like point guard Immanuel Quickley, who has shown flashes of brilliance down the stretch.
With a 35-44 record, the team from Madison Square Garden is statistically eliminated from playoff contention, as they are 5.5 games behind the 10th place Brooklyn Nets for the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference, with just 3 games remaining in the NBA season.
Julius Randle, the team’s high-scoring veteran power forward, us “likely” out for the remainder of the season due to a quad injury, which has opened the door for those Knicks players with limited play time to shine, such as 24-year-old Obi Toppin, who has been relegated to the bench while Randle gobbles up starting minutes.
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But now, Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, who is notorious for shunning young players, has been forced to give time to Quickley, Toppin, and Quentin Grimes.
Quickley, the second-year Knick, has played in 75 games this season, while recording 10.9 points-per-game on 39% shooting.
Since he’s been given more play time amid the Knicks’ recent woes, Quickley has stepped up — including by recording a triple-double in the team’s Sunday night victory over the Orlando Magic.
Off the bench, Quickley recorded 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 20 points, while coming up clutch when the Knicks needed to shut-down their opponent in their 118–88 rout.
The game marked another attention-grabbing performance from the 22-year-old, who has recorded career-bests in recent games, as Thibodeau has unleashed the team’s young core.
On the season, Quickly has been a stable presence off the bench, playing in 75 games, and averaging 22.6 minutes-per-game.
Still, the former Kentucky Wildcat has searched for playing-time in Thibodeau’s veteran-focused offense, which has featured both former-MVP Derrick Rose and multi-time All Star Kemba Walker.
Now that the team has been statistically eliminated from contention, the coach seems to be giving his young core more minutes, which will surely please fans that have been clamoring for a display of the team’s young assets.
Quickley is still under contract for the next 2 years, after signing a 4 year deal worth $10.8 million as a rookie.