When the New York Knicks drafted Immanuel Quickley out of Kentucky in the first round of the 2020 NBA draft (25th overall), nobody imagined he would be averaging 11.4 points per game and shooting nearly 40% from range in his rookie season.
Quickley emerged as a catalyst for the Knicksâ€™ offense, and the team learned a sufficient amount regarding his usages and capitalizing on his strengths.
The Knicks werenâ€™t the only team to notice his astronomical progression this past year, as both Quickley and eighth overall pick Obi Toppin will get summer reps against team USA in Las Vegas. Both were selected to the young USA Select Team that will help the Olympic roster train for the summer games in Tokyo.
The more reps, the better for both young players, but the 21-year-old guard will have an opportunity to train again some of the best players in the world, offering essential experience that should translate to next year.
However, the Knicks tried to force Quickley into a point guard role, and they may have found a more adequate solution for his services as a shooting guard. During his days at Kentucky, Quickley was an efficient shooter with the ability to draw defenders out of position, but the Knicks have the available funds to land an elite point guard without having to rely on Quickley, who is still learning how to be a facilitator.
With that being the case, head coach Tom Thibodeau should look to utilize Quickley as a pure shooter who can create off-the-dribble and hit shots from three-point. He was one of their more efficient shooters last year, so allowing him to operate in that zone should be a priority moving forward.
The Knicks enjoyed pairing Derrick Rose with Quickley, which proved to be a successful duo when the team needed instant offense. Both are quick and agile, and with Roseâ€™s vision and IQâ€™s ability to score, they were able to beat defenders on the perimeter which also opened up space inside.
To give you an idea of how Immanuel played in his rookie season, he ranked first in perimeter shooting, and eighth in playmaking talent according to Bball Index (ranked among rookies).
Basketball Index's Rookie of the Year: Immanuel Quickley
His Rookie Ranks:
? Perimeter Shooting Talent Rating: 1st
? LEBRON (Impact Per 100 possessions): 1st
? O-LEBRON (Offensive Impact per 100): 1st
? LEBRON Wins Added (Total Impact): 1st
? Playmaking Talent Rating: 8th pic.twitter.com/M2aAGhwHOF
— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) June 5, 2021
Depending on how many additional players and positional groupings the Knicks upgrade this off-season, Quickley could be destined for life as a great sixth man or earn starting reps as a shooting guard. The issue with starting Quickley is that he lacks functional strength and size to play quality defense, which will likely carve into his minutes, especially with Thibodeau as a head coach.
What would you like Quickleyâ€™s role to be next season? Comment below!