From trade candidate to Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner.
That’s how quickly Immanuel Quickley has grown over the past few months for the fifth-seed New York Knicks.
Back in November, the Knicks reportedly wanted a first-round pick in exchange for the electric guard, who is extension-eligible this summer. But yesterday’s price is not today’s price.
Quickley’s value has dramatically risen with the Knicks’ rise in the standings.
Even before the acquisition of Josh Hart at the trade deadline, the Knicks were already trending up, thanks to Quickley’s rapid development on both ends of the floor. The third-year guard is averaging career-high 13.7 points on 44.2 percent shooting and 4.1 rebounds with 3.2 assists per game.
Since New York coach Tom Thibodeau shortened his rotation on Dec. 4, Quickley has increased his scoring to 15.4 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting and 37.2 percent from deep. On top of that, he’s become their top perimeter defender with his long arms and ability to fight off screens.
For those reasons, many view him as the Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner, especially after his 38-point masterpiece in Boston on national TV in an epic double-overtime win over the Celtics.
One of them is ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who gave him a ringing endorsement on the latest episode of his podcast.
“Knicks fans, I want to be clear on this. There are 10 games left — this is my initial snapshot, not my deep dive, not my decision, not my ballot, not anything like that,” Lowe said. “I think Immanuel Quickley might be the favorite now to win this award.”
Quickley’s fiercest competitor is Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon, who has better numbers: 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists while shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 45.1 percent from beyond the arc.
But Lowe contends Quickley’s value to the Knicks is greater than Brogdon is to the Celtics.
“Quickley is just a menace to society, and he just feels, to me — and this is almost unfair to Brogdon because it’s demeriting him for playing on a better team with two superstars or one superstar and one borderline All-NBA player, at least in Jaylen Brown — Quickley just feels more essential to the Knicks’ identity and feel and style than Brogdon does in Boston,” Lowe said.
“Brogdon feels like this ingredient you plop in, he plays a little differently than the rest of the Celtics, like, ‘Go do your thing, get us some buckets…’ Quickley feels essential to the fabric of the Knicks in a way that Brogdon doesn’t the Celtics.”
Thibodeau has lauded Quickley’s unique ability to seamlessly play on and off the ball and with starters and the second unit.
In 15 spot starts this season, Quickley’s numbers shoot up to 19.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists while maintaining his efficiency: 44.9 percent overall shooting and 36.3 percent from deep.
Last season, Quickley drew a pair of third-place votes in the Sixth Man of the Year race after his strong push late in the season when the Knicks fell out of playoff contention.
Over the Knicks’ last 22 games, Quickley showed what was to come, averaging 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.0 steals nightly while hitting 39 percent of his 3s.
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