The New York Knicks have relied heavily on their second unit to supplement the starting team in recent days, but without the stellar play of second-year guard Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks might be in a state of peril.
Coming off an impressive victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Quickley posted 14 points, the most off the bench and only fewer than Julius Randle and Evan Fournier. Quickley hit 50% of his three-point shots, attempting eight in the contest, picking up three assists and three rebounds in the process.
With veteran point guard Derrick Rose missing the game, Quickley was utilized more, earning 22 minutes of action. This season, Quickley is averaging 8.9 points, 2.2 assists, and is shooting 39.4% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range. However, his last few games showcase a player taking massive developmental steps forward.
The Kentucky product has produced double-digit points in four of his last five games, connecting on 50% or more from three-point range in four of them. In the month of November, Quickley is hitting 43.5% from the field and 43.1% from three-point range, picking up double-digit points in seven of 12 total games.
As the month has progressed, his minutes have also increased, showing Tom Thibodeau’s confidence and faith in the young guard. However, it’s not only his offense that has taken a step forward, it is his defense as well.
Quickley has portrayed fantastic press and full-court defense, making life far more difficult for teams looking to dominate the perimeter. His high-energy game and quickness give him a unique skill set that has translated to both sides of the ball this year. That was a major negative about his game during his rookie season, a lack of defensive positioning and understanding. Experience has done the young player well, and he is producing at a level that justifies starting minutes in the future.
Taking a look at his advanced metrics, Quickley has experiences increases in multiple categories. His percentage of points made through the three-point shot has risen from 48.4% to 55.9% the season. His points in transition have increased from 6.8% to 14.3%, and his two-point field goals have largely been off assists, running at a 50% rate compared to 19.8% last season.
Interestingly, Quickley has relied more on his teammates to feed him the ball inside the arc, but beyond, he’s seen a sizable uptick in unassisted three-point shots at 46.7% compared to 39% in his rookie season.
Quickley has gotten smarter with a ball in his hands, passing more efficiently and finding better spots on the floor to produce. His development has been a catalyst on offense for New York, but he has matched it with his energy on defense.