Knicks Immanuel Quickley making early case for 6th Man of the Year

Immanuel Quickley Knicks
Nov 26, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates after the Phoenix Suns call a timeout in the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Immanuel Quickley has shown signs of improvement over each of his four NBA seasons with the New York Knicks.

No matter how much his role with the team has fluctuated, going from role player to spot starter last year, he has been a chameleon that can blend in or stand out wherever head coach Tom Thibodeau needs him. This season, he has taken on a new role — a role he has done better than anyone else in the entire NBA: Sixth Man.

Quickley’s rise in the Knicks rotation has been one of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA. The word is out now that the young guard is a blossoming superstar and will soon demand the minutes of a starter. In the meantime, however, Quickley was the runner-up for the Sixth Man Award last year, losing to Malcolm Brogdon of the Boston Celtics.

Both Brogdon and Quickley had nearly identical numbers, with both players averaging 14.9 points per game. Brogdon had the edge in efficiency, shooting better from the field and three-point range than Quickley.  Combining those factors with Boston being the No. 2 seed in the East to the Knicks coming in at No. 4, it’s no surprise why the decision was made in Brogdon’s favor. 

This year again, Quickley is at the top of the pack. Coming off the bench in every game for New York thus far, the dynamic guard leads the Knicks in fourth-quarter scoring. Not only do the numbers support Quickley, but the eye test and the difference he makes on the floor cannot be understated. 

“Net rating is the most important thing to me,” Thibodeau said after a 136-130 win over the Raptors Monday, “You win games in different ways… sometimes it might be your defense, sometimes it might be your offense.”

Immanuel Quickley Knicks
Immanuel Quickley (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In terms of lineups that have played in double-digit games together, Quickley is featured in the top two Knicks lineups when it comes to net rating. When he shares the court with Julius Randle, Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Mitchell Robinson they have combined for a 27.7 net rating. When swapping out Isaiah Hartenstein for Mitchell Robinson, the lineup has a net rating of 24.8. 

While Quickley is by no means the top player on the Knicks, what he brings to the table in all aspects of the game cannot be replicated. It is only a matter of time before he earns more minutes and can make his impact felt even more. Depending on how Thibodeau and the Knicks’ rotations shake out the rest of the year, Quickley could even have a very similar season to Jason Terry in 2008-09 where Terry averaged over 30 minutes per game coming off the bench. 

Looking at Quickley’s competition for this year, it is likely going to take more minutes for the guard to make his impact felt. Tim Hardaway Jr. from the Mavericks is currently averaging 2.7 more points in four more minutes per game. In the East, Bogdan Bogdanovich from the Atlanta Hawks is averaging 2.1 more points in 2.5 more minutes per game.

Quickley has met every single test Thibodeau has pushed him to so far. If given the same minutes and opportunities as Hardaway and Bogdanovic, Quickley could be the first Knicks guard to win the award since JR Smith in 2012-13. Only time and opportunity stand in the way of Quickley and his first piece of hardware in his career.

For more on Immanuel Quickley and the Knicks, visit AMNY.com