Knicks legend John Starks reacts to Immanuel Quickley’s Rising Stars snub

New York Knicks, Immanuel Quickley

John Starks, a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year for the New York Knicks, feels for their rookie Immanuel Quickley who was left out of the Rising Stars roster.

Starks was in disbelief when he saw the Rising Stars roster without the Knicks’ rookie sensation in it.

“I was shocked, to be honest with you,” Starks said on MSG PM on Thursday night following the Knicks’ 114-104 win over the Detroit Pistons. “This kid has been tremendous this year coming off the bench. He’s been one of the leaders out there.”

No.3 in Rookie Ladder

Quickley is averaging only 18.8 minutes on the floor, but he’s producing 23.4 points per 36 minutes which leads all the rookies. He recently jumped to No.3 in the NBA’s Rookie Ladder from No.5.

In 33 games, Quickley has put up 12.2 points (4th among rookies), 2.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists (8th among rookies) and leads all rookies with 98 free throws made. LaMelo Ball is a distant second with 81. His 94.2 percent free-throw accuracy ranks fourth overall in the league.

Quickley has been one of the reasons why the Knicks are off to a surprising start. His valuable play off the bench has helped the Knicks to a 19-18 record, good for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break. It’s also their best start since 2013, the last time they made the playoffs.

Quickley’s heady play and his signature floater have endeared him to the Knicks fan base.

“He’s doing everything you want a rookie to do and he’s having the poise of a veteran. I can’t say enough about how this kid carries himself on the court. You just watch how he interacts with his teammates, how he interacts with the referees, it says a lot about his maturity. And for him not to be on the Rising Stars team, I’m just shaking my head,” Starks said.

Same career arc?

The 6-foot-3 Starks, like Quickley, was a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. But he more than made for his lack of size with his basketball IQ, hops, and physicality on defense. His career averages of 12.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists are near Quickley’s numbers so far.

Starks will always be remembered for his iconic dunk against the Chicago Bulls in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals.

Starks was a key starter in the Knicks team led by Patrick Ewing, which went to the 1994 NBA Finals. In the latter part of his stint with the New York franchise, he moved to the bench, and won the Sixth Man of the Year in 1997.

Quickley can learn a thing or two from Starks.

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All-Star send-off: Randle powers Knicks over .500 after Pistons rout

Julius Randle put on a show at The Garden before heading to Atlanta for his first NBA All-Star game.

Randle’s near triple-double powered the New York Knicks to their first winning record at the All-Star break in eight years.

The Knicks improved to 19-18, sitting at fifth place in the Eastern Conference after a wire-to-wire 114-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

This marks the first time the Knicks are above .500 this late in the season since they were the Eastern Conference’s second seed at the All-Star break in 2013, the last time they reached the playoffs.

After a disappointing road loss in San Antonio two nights ago, the Knicks vented their ire on the Eastern Conference-worst Pistons.

With Randle leading the way, the Knicks led from start to finish. The first-time All-Star already had a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the first half alone as the Knicks sat on a 13-point halftime lead, 59-46.

New York extended the lead to 19, heading into the fourth quarter. The undermanned Pistons put up a token resistance in the final period cutting the lead to nine, but RJ Barrett quickly restored a double-digit lead with a three-pointer.

Randle bullied his way to 27 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists, becoming the first player in Knicks history to have 800 points, 400 rebounds, and 200 assists at the All-Star break, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Aside from that milestone, the 26-year old forward also recorded his 10th game with at least 25 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, the second-most in franchise history. He needs five more to tie the franchise record held by Bob McAdoo, which he did during the 1977-78 season.

“We’re growing as a team, growing as a unit,’’ Randle told Rebecca Haarlow after the game. “We got to go into the break and stay ready because the second half will be a beast. The first half was great for us, but we know we can keep improving and get better as a team, and we will.’’

The Knicks took care of business in the first half of the season, winning 12 games against losing teams and scoring victories against some playoff-caliber teams. They routed Golden State and Boston on the road and Milwaukee at home while beating Indiana twice.

But it will get tougher after the All-Star break.

The Knicks will play 26 of their last 35 games against playoff-contending teams, starting with a tough road trip in Milwaukee next Thursday followed by visits in Oklahoma, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia.

But before they get tested, this night was all about the Knicks punctuating a terrific first half of the season, which pundits never saw coming.

The Knicks’ turnaround wasn’t only about Randle. Collectively, this team emerged from the long years of dysfunction and incompetence.

They learned to play for each other under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. Thursday night’s encore against the Pistons was another testament to that.

Derrick Rose missed his second straight game due to COVID-19 health and protocols, but Elfrid Payton returned to the starting unit with aplomb.

Payton directed the Knicks’ offense which became stagnant in their 119-93 loss to the Spurs earlier. He was active on both ends of the floor, collecting 20 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals, and a block in a complete performance. Payton tied Reggie Bullock, who had 12 markers, for the night’s highest net rating with +17.

All five starters finished in double figures, with Barrett scoring 21 points on 9-of-13 shots. The Canadian swingman, chosen as one of the Rising Stars for the second straight year, added four boards and five dimes.

Nerlens Noel continued to provide a defensive spark with Mitchell Robinson (fractured hand) and Taj Gibson (ankle injury) still sidelined. He stuffed the stats sheet with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, four steals, and two blocks while shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.

Dennis Smith, Jr. returned to New York for the first time since he got traded for Rose and scored 12 points in a starting role. Another ex-Knick, Wayne Ellington, who spent last season in New York, led the Pistons with 17 points.

It was a fitting send-off for Randle, who was selected and praised by one of the All-Star captains, Kevin Durant, also the leader of the championship-caliber team in Brooklyn, just across the borough.

Bannering Team Durant are starters Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, and Durant’s replacement Jayson Tatum.

Randle joins James Harden, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Donovan Mitchell as reserves.

Randle will also compete in the Skills Challenge while Knicks rookie Obi Toppin hopes to end his dull first half with a bang in the Slam Dunk competition as a springboard to the second half of the season.

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New York Knicks: Barrett named to Rising Stars, Quickley snubbed

New York Knicks‘ sophomore swingman RJ Barrett was voted for the second straight year to be part of the World Team in the Rising Stars. Curiously, Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley was left out of the U.S. Team, which had four rookies.

However, the NBA Rising Stars game will not be played this year due to the limitation of having All-Star events all on one night.

Barrett joins fellow Canadians Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans Pelicans), Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City Thunder), Brandon Clarke (Memphis Grizzlies), and Mychal Mulder (Golden State Warriors).

Miami Heat forward Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria), Washington Wizards forwards Deni Avdija (Israel), Rui Hachimura (Japan), Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (Argentina), and Théo Maledon (France) complete the World Team roster.

NBA All-Star Zion Williamson of the Pelicans and the reigning Rookie of the Year Ja Morant of the Grizzlies banner the U.S. Team.

Two-time reigning Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets, top overall pick Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings guard, and two-time reigning Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month Tyrese Haliburton and James Wiseman of the Warriors made the team were the only rookies selected.

The other sophomores joining Williamson and Morant are Heat guard Tyler Herro, Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, San Antonio Spurs guard/forward Keldon Johnson, and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Quickley, the Knicks’ stellar rookie, was the biggest snub. The 25th pick Quickley is leading all rookies with the most 25-plus point performances this season, with five followed by Ball and Edwards with three each. He also leads all rookies in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with 18.8, followed by Ball (18.7) and Haliburton (18.2). The Kentucky product also ranks third in free throw percentage in the whole league, shooting 94.2 percent. Only Jordan Clarkson (96.6%) and Chris Paul (95.3%) shoot better than him from the free-throw line. He leads all rookies with 98 total free throws made with Edwards, a distant second with 80, and Ball with 68.

Quickley, who has season averages of 12.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, came in third in the latest NBA Rookie Ladder.

The Rising Stars rosters were determined by the league’s assistant coaches, who were made to select four frontcourt players, four guards, and two additional players at any position for each team.

Voters selected a minimum of three first-year NBA players and three second-year NBA players for each team. The assistant coaches were not permitted to vote for any player on their team. Each of the league’s 30 teams submitted one ballot per coaching staff.

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Warriors spoil Randle’s All-Star coronation, Knicks’ fans return

A sold-out and socially distanced crowd of 1,981 returned to The Garden for the first time in 352 days. But Stephen Curry also returned from a one-game absence and dropped 37 points as the Golden State Warriors continued their mastery over the New York Knicks, 114-106, on Tuesday night.

It was the seventh straight Golden State win at The Garden since 2014.

Curry outplayed Julius Randle in an All-Star showdown. The Warriors’ All-Star guard had 26 points in the second half, including the biggest shots and plays down the stretch.

Randle’s night started with his first All-Star selection and MVP chants, but it ended ugly with his first ejection of the season.

Despite a rough shooting night (8-of-21), Randle still had a near triple-double to lead the Knicks. He produced 25 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists before frustrations got the better of him in the final 17.5 seconds.

The Knicks stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the second half and even tied the game at 97-all.

But Curry came through in the clutch, scoring 10 points in the final 3:38 to put the game away.

Draymond Green was also a difference-maker for the visiting team. The do-it-all big man filled up the stats sheet — 7 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals, and 2 assists — that more than made up for his ejection in their first meeting this season which Knicks won, 119-104, on the road.

It wasn’t only Randle who struggled offensively for the Knicks.

RJ Barrett had an atrocious 1-for-9 shooting and finished with only four points. He also missed a crucial free throw with 86 seconds left that could have closed the gap to just two. To his credit, he pulled down 10 rebounds.

The Knicks’ point guards tried to keep in step with Curry to no avail.

Derrick Rose snapped out of his slump and had 16 points and eight assists off the bench. Elfrid Payton also dished out a solid game, finishing with 20 points and limiting Curry to 11 in the first half.

The Knicks led by four, 59-55, at the break. But a third-quarter disaster doomed them and silenced the crowd, which let out their bottled-up emotions in the opening half.

Knicks rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin offered contrasting performances, playing in front of the home fans for the first time.

Quickley played tentative and struggled offensively for the fourth straight game. He only scored three points on 1-for-5 shooting in 13 minutes.

On the other hand, Toppin was energized by his hometown crowd, which included his parents. The Brooklyn native was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field in 13 minutes. He had a highlight dunk and a huge three-pointer that cut the Warriors’ lead to two in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks blew another chance to get to .500, dropping to their second loss in the last three games. They remained at the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with a 15-17 record.

The Knicks will have two more chances — Sacramento Kings on Thursday and Indiana Pacers on Saturday — to make up for their home fans.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks finally have an All-Star: Julius Randle named to East’s reserves

The New York Knicks‘ road to respectability got a much-needed shot in the arm after Julius Randle got his first All-Star nod.

Randle, the leader of the Knicks’ resurgence this season, was among the seven reserves voted by the coaches, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“It would mean a lot,” Randle said of the All-Star selection via zoom call with reporters after the Knicks’ shootaround on Tuesday morning.

“My goal was never just to play in the NBA. I always felt that I would get there. I just wanted to be the best player I could possibly be and reach my potential. And I try to push myself every day to do so. It would definitely be a milestone.”

The selection is a validation of the new Knicks’ culture laid out by new team president Leon Rose and first-year coach Tom Thibodeau.

The seven-year forward constantly faced double-teams, finally getting the respect he’s been longing for since coming into the league as a lottery pick (seventh overall) in 2014.

“I think I get that validation how they play me every night. With the double teams,” Randle said.

“How they try to game plan. All that type of stuff. Obviously the All-Star nod would be amazing. Every player strives to do that, or whatever the case may be.”

Thibodeau pointed out that Randle’s impact on winning would weigh heavily. He was right.

Randle is having a career season leading the Knicks to a 15-16 record entering Tuesday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

Roughly 2,000 fans will celebrate and cheer for Randle and the Knicks when they take the floor at The Garden, marking the first time it allows fans in New York arenas in almost a year.

Randle is averaging 23.2 points, shooting 41 percent from deep, 11.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists in 36.8 minutes, all career-highs.

He became the first All-Star selected from the Knicks since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Porzingis, though didn’t play in the game due to his ACL injury.

Barring any injury, Randle will be the first player to play in the mid-season classic since Carmelo Anthony in 2017.

Randle earned $945,000 for his selection, and he stands to double that if the Knicks reach the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks.

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Hard work is undefeated: Randle drops 44 in Knicks’ 3rd straight win

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

Julius Randle hasn’t been to the NBA All-Star game, nor he’s been part of a winning team.

On the eve of the last day of the NBA All-Star voting for the fans, Randle made another strong case for his inclusion in the mid-season classic.

Randle exploded for a season-high 44 points, one-point shy of his career-high, that pushed the New York Knicks to sixth spot in the Eastern Conference after clipping the Atlanta Hawks, 123-112, Monday night at The Garden.

Randle started strong with 17 first-quarter points, then finished the game stronger.

He hit a career-high seven three-pointers, with the last one beating the shot clock with 3:18 left that gave the Knicks some breathing room, 112-107.

Then RJ Barrett put the game away with his three-pointer off a Randle assist.

Randle added nine rebounds and five assists in a spectacular performance, which Tom Thibodeau referred to as “a reflection of the work [Randle] is putting in.”

“He’s doing it all. But the most important thing is his impact on winning,” Thibodeau said. “Hopefully, it will be recognized.”

Randle has been the Knicks’ best player and leader this season, averaging 22.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists, all career-highs. Most importantly, he has led the Knicks to win 14 of their first 29 games in a season where they are expected to be one of the lottery teams.

Thibodeau said he wouldn’t call coaches around the league to lobby for Randle.

“His game speaks for itself. I know a lot of guys frown upon that,” Thibodeau said.

He explained that a lot of players are deserving for the seven spots in the All-Star reserves, but when it comes down to voting, and everything seems equal, the coaches would go to the next criteria, which he said is the impact on winning.

“I’m hopeful people will recognize what he’s doing for this team. And he will be recognized. He’s having a terrific season,” Thibodeau said.

Randle said he’s locked in, and making it to the All-Star game is one of his goals when he came to the Knicks via free agency last season.

“I just put the time in. I went home and fixed a couple of things, just repped it out the whole day. Honestly, I just put the time in. Hard work is undefeated,” Randle told Rebecca Haarlow during his postgame interview where his teammates lobbied for his All-Star inclusion.

Randle’s teammates have followed his lead.

Nerlens Noel continued to pick up the slack for the injured Mitchell Robinson. Despite nursing five fouls, Noel didn’t back down and anchored the Knicks’ defense. His back-to-back blocks in the third quarter punctuated a 7-0 Knicks run that enabled them to tie the game at 81-all.

Noel filled up the stats sheet with six points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three-shot blocks. He tied Randle for the most +/- among all Knicks players with 17.

Elfrid Payton also was a catalyst in that run as he pumped in six of his 12 points while limiting Trae Young to just one field goal during that stretch.

Meanwhile, Barrett finished with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from deep. It was an excellent bounce-back game for Barrett, who struggled in the Knicks’ last three games.

Rookie Immanuel Quickley contributed 16 points and five assists in 22 minutes off the bench.

Derrick Rose, who drew constant double teams in the fourth quarter, failed to score in double digits but still found ways to make an impact. He wound up with eight points, three boards, three assists, and two blocks.

The Knicks hope to make it four in a row when they visit the injury-ravaged Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

A win would pull them to .500 in their first 30 games and move Randle closer to his dreams.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo