The New York Knicks have been perpetually searching for a point guard. Perhaps they already have it in Immanuel Quickley.
Quickley showed his playmaking chops on Monday night against the playoff-bound Chicago Bulls when he fed Alec Burks for the game-winning three-pointer.
With seven seconds left on the shot clock, Quickley drove past Bulls’ rookie Ayo Dosunmu and drew and made the right read of kicking it out to a wide-open Burks in the corner when Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan ganged up to meet him.
That was the kind of play, more than his sharpshooting and foul-hunting moves, that gives hope that the Knicks may finally have their point guard. Moments earlier, he also set up Mitchell Robinson for a slam in a backdoor play that caught the Bulls’ defense napping.
“It’s huge for everyone,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said when asked about Quickley’s growth as a playmaker, making the right read in that pivotal play.
Quickley’s final stats of the night — eight points on 1 of 5 field goals and four assists — wasn’t as impressive as his past games. But he also didn’t turn the ball over in 27 minutes and made the right play at the right time.
“I think [Quickley] and I, we’ve been just growing up and Obi (Toppin) as well,” said RJ Barrett, the youngest among the three future cornerstones of the Knicks organization, at 21.
The recent play of the young Knicks trio has generated excitement among the fan base. The 22-year old Quickley has overcome a poor shooting stretch to start the season and now playing important minutes down the stretch.
“You know, just trusting the process. Quick has been playing extremely well over the past 15, 16 games. He’s been doing his thing, and we’re happy to see that,” Barrett said.
Over his last 16 games, Quickley averaged 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists against only 1.2 turnovers in 26.5 minutes while having a solid 45/43/88 shooting splits. The Knicks have outscored their opponents by 4.9 when he’s on the floor during that stretch where they have gone 9-7, including their latest season-high four-game winning streak.
“With his development as a playmaker, he sees the court more. He sees things. He’s getting a lot of assists now. So, [he’s] just another added weapon out there on our team,” Barrett said.
Quickley’s growth as a playmaker is critical this summer as the Knicks have been linked to Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, who could command $18-20 million in the open market and worse via a sign-and-trade where they have to give up an asset.
The Knicks front office could pivot using that type of money and assets for a star down the road as Quickley proves he can play as a point guard.
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