Now in his fourth year in the NBA, Immanuel Quickley has been a young and promising piece within the Knicks since Day 1. The former All-Rookie has improved his scoring output each of the last two seasons, showing his ability to be a chameleon and adapt to whatever head coach Tom Thibodeau needs from him.
Now that Quickley has shown the ability to adapt and thrive in the Knicks scheme, it’s time to see how the Knicks scheme can maximize the potential of the budding superstar.
In his rookie season, Quickley made a name for himself with his dazzling athleticism and motor that never stopped. Although he experienced the growing pains of the NBA and often struggled to move the ball and create for others, he increased his assist numbers from 2.0 to 3.5 per game. Appearing in 78 games with three starts, he showed an ability to control the offense off the bench and provide a spark the Knicks desperately needed outside of their starting five.
Last year, Quickley made the jump from role piece to key contributor, seeing his minutes increase by more than five per game. He thrived when given the extra responsibility, posting a career-high in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free-throw attempts. He demanded more attention from opposing teams, increasing his field goal attempts by two per game. While his usage rate decreased, he found a way to impact the game in every phase, becoming the sixth man off Thibodeau’s bench.
Additionally, Quickley became more comfortable playing from the shooting guard position rather than a point guard. In his first two seasons, he spent the majority of his minutes running point. Since the start of last season, he has mostly spent time at the 2 while occasionally handling point guard responsibilities. Thibodeau adapting to Quickley’s skill set paid tremendous dividends as the Knicks had a +8.6 net rating when he was on the court versus on the bench last season.
This year, it’s time for Quickley to make the jump from key contributor to franchise cornerstone. Given how Julius Randle started the season with .271/.225/.618 shooting splits on 16 field goal attempts per game prior to a strong 27-point showing on Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Knickerbockers need for someone to step up consistently. Quickley is a prime candidate as early season trends indicate. He is experiencing a career-high 26% usage rate along with a career-high in field goal attempts and true shooting percentage.
Much like other rising talent around the league, Quickley has broken the mold he was once confined to as a bench contributor and has become so much more important to the Knicks scheme. Now, it is time for the Knicks scheme to fit Quickley and his ever-evolving skill set. The Knicks are currently 1-3 in crunch time situations, defined as a game within five points in the last five minutes, with their lone win coming against the Atlanta Hawks.
In the fourth quarters of games this year, Quickley is averaging a little over eight minutes, chipping in 5.2 points on four field goal attempts. Not only does Quickley bring the tangible stats, but the intangibles are where he sets himself apart. His constant energy and ability to be all over the floor makes him an irreplaceable piece on the roster.
That was none more evident than in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game against the Clippers at Madison Square Garden when a strong defensive possession just over a minute into the frame and the Knicks up five saw Quickley deny a drive by James Harden before quickly cutting out to the corner to deter a three-point attempt by Terance Mann.
It forced the Clippers guard to try a drive toward the paint and kick it out to the opposite corner, but it was stolen by Josh Hart which led to an easy transition dunk for RJ Barrett.
As the season progresses and trends become more apparent, the role of Quickley is a big piece to watch with this Knicks roster. If challenged to take the next step, he will have to answer the bell and propel this team forward. And if prior examples are any indication, Quickley will meet this challenge head-on and become an essential piece to this Knicks roster moving forward.