Knicks’ Quickley, Barrett gain respect of Kawhi, George, Clippers

Immanuel Quickley Knicks
Knicks point guard Immanuel Quickley
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

They’re not saying that the Knicks aren’t cool or hip or the in-thing anymore — at least when it comes from NBA superstars outside of Brooklyn.

Following the Knicks’ 129-114 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and head coach Tyronn Lue lauded New York and some of their young, rising stars. Only further cementing the notion that the organization is finally heading in a promising direction.

Los Angeles’ three-point shooting onslaught was far too much for the Knicks’ league-best perimeter defense and sporadic attack to keep up with, but rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley and second-year guard RJ Barrett stood out in the loss.

Quickley posted 25 points in 27 minutes, including a 10-point flurry in just over four minutes to start the fourth quarter, keeping the Knicks in contention.

“His float game was off the charts for a young guy,” George said of Quickley. “I think what I love the most — and it’s a hard quality to find: I thought he was fearless. He took some big shots.”

The Kentucky product is already proving to be the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft after being taken 25th overall. Along with a deadly floater and an ability to run the offense as seamlessly as the Knicks have seen in ages, Quickley continues to study the game and its best players.

“After he shot [during warmups], he sat down and watched Kawhi shoot and work out for like 15 minutes,” Lue said. “So he’s willing to learn, he wants to learn, he wants to be great. And that’s what you want from young players.”

Barrett continued his ascent toward star status as he dropped 23 points on the Clippers with Leonard — one of the premier defenders in basketball — as his primary defender.

While the beginning of the season provided some major question marks about his efficiency from the field, Barrett has been incredibly reliable over the last nine games before Monday night’s tilt in Chicago against the Bulls, posting a 53.4% shooting clip after going 9-of-14 from the floor on Sunday.

“He took on the challenge and that’s how you get better. Trying to guard the best players on the floor and also trying to attack them. I liked his mindset,” Leonard said of Barrett. “Sky’s the limit depending on how hard he works and where his mentality is. I like that he took on the challenge.”