The New York Knicks were flying high prior to facing off against the Oklahoma Thunder on Friday night. They had won five of their last six games, showing incredible aggression on defense and a surprising ability to score efficiently. Thanks to star power forward Julius Randle, the Knicks have become a team worth watching and won the opponents have to consider a threat. However, their defense simply collapsed against Oklahoma, giving up 101 points and scoring 89 themselves.
It seemed like a dud for head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s team, and might even say an anomaly. Oklahoma utilized 11 different players, seeing point production from three primary players, Al Hartford, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Hamidou Diallo. The Thunder shot collectively 43.7% from the field and 32.4% from beyond the arc, much better than the Knicks, who shot a measly 35.8% from the field. They received a majority of their points from Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, and RJ Barrett. That has been a consistent trio for New York this year, but their young rookie guard saw reality smack him in the face after starting his career on a high note.
Former Kentucky standout Immanuel Quickley played in 17 minutes, his highest since their victory against the Atlanta Hawks. He shot a measly 1-for-9 and connected on one three-pointer over three attempts. He scored just three points, recording a -13 +/-.
Ultimately, Quickley has been a revelation for the Knicks thus far, showing his ability to weave in and out of traffic and score with efficiency. Despite one bad performance, Quickley is still a promising young player with the potential to be the Knicks’ starting point guard in the future. He’s a fantastic transition player, who I believe will pair well with Obi Toppin when he returns from a calf injury that has held him out over the past week-plus.
On the year, Quickley is averaging 13.8 minutes per game over five appearances, considering he dealt with the hip pointer injury earlier this year. He averages 6.6 points per game and only 1.6 assists. I would like to see him increase his vision on the court and pass the ball a bit more efficiently, but the Knicks are utilizing him as a point guard — more as a shooting threat from the outside. Thibodeau has committed to winning over player development, and while this could hold some youngsters back, it’s in the best interest of the team and fans.