Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley eyes major leap in third season

immanuel quickley, knicks

The arrival of Jalen Brunson and the revival of Derrick Rose have made Immanuel Quickley someone like a forgotten man in the New York Knicks roster.

After hitting major strides late in the season as a primary ball handler, Quickley looked ready to expand his role. Yet as he starts his third season in the league, he finds himself stuck again as the team’s Sixth Man although that can be debated now with Rose’s return.

Quickley will have to share ball-handling duties with Rose and Quentin Grimes when he returns from a foot injury in the second unit.

“That’s why I train for any situation that I’m put in. When I’m training in the offseason, I train to have the ball in my hands and try to play without the ball. As we’ve seen through the years, that is where the NBA is going anyway — playing multiple ball handlers.”

Immanuel Quickley

Without Rose much of last season, Quickley helmed the second unit, and his solid play toward the end did not go unnoticed, receiving two third-place votes in the Sixth Man of the Year race.

Quickley was one of the catalysts of the Knicks’ strong finish, although it came late as they missed the play-in tournament. The electric guard averaged 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in his last 22 games. His field goal percentage rose to 43.7 percent from the field and his three-point sho came alive, hitting 39 percent during that torrid stretch.

This upcoming season, Quickley has one goal in mind to take the next leap.

“I want to be able to shoot like over 40 [percent]. That’s obviously something that I think everybody wants to do especially being a guard.”

Immanuel Quickley

Despite his late surge, Quickley finished shooting 39.2 percent overall last season from the field. His three-point percentage dropped from 38.9 to 34.6 percent in his second year, mainly due to his early shooting slump as he struggled without Rose at the start.

The maniacal worker that he is, Quickley spent most of the time in the gym this past summer, mastering skills that he thinks will help him achieve his goal.

Noticeably bulkier than last season, Quickley prepared his body for more physical plays in his third year as a pro.

“Finishing around the rim was definitely one [stuff that I trained]. That’s why I added a little bit of weight just so I could finish around the rim. I think that’ll help my field goal percentage. Shooting off the dribble like getting in the mid-range area and that I feel like I got the floater pretty well.”

So just being able to give the defense something else and then also create for my teammates. When I do have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can score pretty well. Being able to help my teammates get shots off where they like them is something that I try to do well.”

Immanuel Quickley

Every year, Quickley has gotten better in attacking the rim. Per Cleaning The Glass, Quickley improved from 56 in his rookie year to 62 percent last season on shots around the rim, jumping from the 33rd to 66th percentile in the league. And he did that with more volume, doubling his rim attempts (39 to 78).

Toward the end of the season, Quickley’s confidence was at an all-time high as he delivered two triple-double games — a 20-10-10 game against Orlando and a career night (34-10-12) versus Toronto in the Knicks season finale.

“Just being able to do everything while I’m on the floor is a versatility thing that I like for myself.”

Immanuel Quickley

Quickley can benefit from Rose’s return after he was the focus of the opposing second unit’s defense. Rose’s presence should help Quickley achieve his goal of becoming a more efficient all-around player that he hopes would lead to winning basketball.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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