The New York Knicks didnâ€™t do much to improve their shooting ability this off-season, losing out on multiple max contract players as the allure of Madison Square Garden simply isnâ€™t enough to bring in elite talent.
The Knicks were one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA last season, and while most thought they would target a point guard in the 2020 NBA draft, they settled for power forward in Obi Toppin and shooting guard Immanuel Quickley.
Toppin represents a big body who dominates in transition and bullies in the paint. Heâ€™s not the most defensive player, but heâ€™s working to improve that side of his game. He believes he can play the three, four, or five if necessary, following the leadership of Tom Thibodeau.
The New York Knicks are looking to become a more transition-based, shooting team:
However, the Knicks did try to land a sharpshooter in Quickley, who was fantastic with Kentucky in 2019, averaging 16.1 points per game and shooting .417 from the floor and .428 from being on the arc. Interestingly, he actually shot better from a long-range, averaging 4.8 attempts per game. His statistics compared to 2018 more than doubled in 2019, showing off extreme growth.
â€œThe one thing is heâ€™s got a great skill already â€” he can shoot the ball as well as anyone in the league,â€ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Wednesday after a training camp practice. â€œHeâ€™s a great shooter. Now itâ€™s learning all the other parts of the league and his team. The defensive part is usually the biggest adjustment for guys coming in. Then, of course, understanding the tendencies of the players and the teams and learning his teammates.
The sign of good coaching is stellar stamina and defense. Thibodeau plans to create a defensively aggressive squad that puts pressure on the opposition and forces them to play harder than anticipated. If they can wear out their opponents, they can increase the probability of victory.
â€œThe college game is very different from the NBA game. So thereâ€™s an adjustment period that you go through. But I love his enthusiasm, great work ethic, great student of the game. Heâ€™s in early, he stays late, he comes back at night. He does all the things you would like a rookie to do.â€
Adjusting to the NBA game will take time, as Quickley is only 188 pounds and will need to put on a bit more size to improve his defense against bigger opponents. Nonetheless, I expect him to be extremely active with the Knicks early on, considering heâ€™s already one of their best shooters and has never taken an attempt in the NBA.
â€œEspecially with the way the game is played today, itâ€™s basically five guys that can shoot the basketball,â€ Quickley said. â€œI feel like that opens up driving angles and then you can drive and kick, create passing angles from there and just play as a team. A great shot is your best transition defense, so being able to shoot the ball, that sets up everything.â€
Some believe Quickley can develop into a point guard, but stretching the floor and putting him in the corner might be his best usage early on in his career. The increased speed of the game itâ€™s going to be a challenge, which is directly correlated to stamina.
Expect to see Thibodeau testing different rotations early on in the campaign, with Quickley likely earning small samples of reps at point guard. He is the future of this team, so he will 100% be a focal point in their plans moving forward.