Too Quick, Too Hot: Quickley lifts Knicks past Pacers in NBA Summer League

immanuel quickley, knicks

After a jittery start to his first NBA Summer League, Immanuel Quickley got the perfect advice from New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.

“Just be yourself,” Quickley revealed.

And he looked like the Quickley that the Knicks have stolen with the 25th pick in last year’s NBA draft and was named to the All-Rookie NBA Team.

After a brutal 5-for-17 shooting in the Knicks’ 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday, Quickley bounced back strong with a game-high 32 points built around 11-of-21 field goals.

He was perfect six-for-six from the line and added eight assists against a single turnover. The guard out of Kentucky also had two steals in a solid game on both ends of the floor.

“Last game, I was kinda trying to find my way and get everybody involved,” Quickley said. “In this game, I’m kinda trying to do both but just a little bit more aggressive, help my teammates and be more of a leader.”

Quickley did much of the damage in the second half, dropping 23 points and six assists where the Knicks outscored the Pacers by 11 points.

Obi Toppin, who fed off Quickley’s point guard play, had another strong outing with 22 points and nine rebounds but had five turnovers.

Toppin started the game aggressively but a little bit out of control. He committed four of the Knicks’ 10 turnovers in the first quarter and missed three baskets around the rim, including a flubbed dunk in his first attempt. But once he got settled and played in the flow of things, the sophomore forward was a wrecking ball.

Two days after the Knicks lost to Atlanta Hawks in the first round, Quickley and Toppin were reportedly back in the gym.

“That’s what the Knicks culture is — working hard, enjoying the work, and getting better,” Quickley said. “We’re really excited for the Summer League team. We’re really excited for the next season. We just want to continue to get better and take the steps to move forward.”

The Knicks have prioritized getting Quickley more reps as a point guard in his first Summer League play. So far, the 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio had been impressive. He said he’s looking forward to soaking in more lessons from Derrick Rose and the newly acquired Kemba Walker.

Meanwhile, fan-favorite Jericho Sims stayed perfect in the NBA Summer League with an eight-point, nine-rebound effort. He was 4-for-4 from the field after going 6-for-6 in his debut. Sims, who signed a two-way deal reportedly for two years per Keith Smith of Spotrac, has been a revelation.

“He played phenomenal running the floor and catching lobs in traffic,” freelance NBA scout Tony Coleman told Empire Sports Media. “He’s playing solid defense on the other side of the ball. He’s definitely a steal in my humble opinion.”

Coleman is in Las Vegas for his scouting trip.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis, the Knicks’ 36th pick, finally made his Knicks debut contributing three points and one assist in nine minutes.

Jokubaitis, a healthy DNP in the Knicks’ first game, was given more run this time than Luca Vildoza. Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto even experimented with a three-guard lineup featuring Jokubaitis, Miles McBride, and Vildoza, who went scoreless in four minutes but managed to grab a rebound and one steal.

The Knicks’ first-round pick, Quentin Grimes, had another rough shooting game with six points on 2-for-10 shooting in almost 35 minutes. Matched against NBA Draft Day target Chris Duarte, Grimes committed five fouls. Duarte had a solid debut filling up the stats sheet with 14 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two shot blocks. The 24-year old Duarte played with so much poise and shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-for-7 from deep.

The Knicks’ other second-round pick, McBride, put an exclamation point to their win and his impressive game with a dunk.

With Thibodeau in attendance, McBride showed the toughness and tenacity that made the Knicks coach fall in love with his game. He scattered 14 points (5-of-7 from the field), three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

On Wednesday, the Knicks will return to action against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo 

Obi Toppin, Jericho Sims electrify in Knicks’ first Summer League loss

New York Knicks, Obi Toppin

New York Knicks couldn’t find their mark from the outside, but Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims provided the highlights in an 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday at the start of their NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas.

The Knicks shot an atrocious 7 for 40 from deep, with Immanuel Quickley and Toppin combining for 4-of-21 three-point shooting. Both incoming sophomore players were 1 for 5 from the floor in the opening quarter as the Knicks played catchup the rest of the way.

“I was very curious. So far, it’s been a great experience,” Toppin said after the game. “It would have been better if we got the W. We just didn’t lose but we learned today. We’ll learn from this and get better.”

Toppin’s confidence grew as the game went on as he got comfortable in a go-to guy role in their summer roster after languishing behind Julius Randle last season. He led the Knicks with 24 points, including a breakaway slam in the opening half. He added eight rebounds, a steal, and a block and finished the game on 10-of-21 shooting.

Jericho Sims jumped out of nowhere to steal the show among the Knicks rookies. His energy and athleticism led him to produce 12 points on a perfect 6 for 6 shooting on the floor. He was electric and a human highlight reel with his above-the-rim shots. The Knicks announced during the early moments of the game that Sims had been signed to a two-way contract. He can be with the Knicks next season up to a maximum of 50 games. The 58th overall pick added eight rebounds and one shot block for good measure.

Quickley pushed the pace after his slow start and had the Knicks within single digits, 83-74, on his three-pointer with 2:26 left. But the Raptors answered with back-to-back threes to put the game away.

Quickley played a game-high 37 minutes and collected 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals as the primary point guard.

The Knicks’ first-round pick Quentin Grimes opened the game with a three-pointer and finished with nine points, all coming from beyond the arc. He was 3-for-11 overall and 3-of-8 from the three-point line. Miles McBride missed all his four attempts from 3 but scattered nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal while showing some toughness on both sides of the floor.

Luca Vildoza’s shooting slump from the Tokyo Olympics continued, but he drew a charge on his first defensive play and handed out three assists.

Lithuanian Rokas Jokubaitis did not see action, and Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yashimoto described him as situational. Barcelona only cleared him to play three games in Las Vegas. From the looks of it, he’s more likely a pick-and-stash with the Knicks prioritizing Vildoza before him.

The Knicks will return to action on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Vildoza, Jokubaitis make Knicks debut as last guaranteed spot still up for grabs

With rookies Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride signing their rookie contracts Friday, the New York Knicks have now filled 14 guaranteed spots in their roster.

The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas could prove to be the battleground for the last remaining roster spot between two Euroleague guards.

Luca Vildoza arrived in Sin City Friday night, still feeling the effects of jetlag. While Rokas Jokubaitis, the Lithuanian guard, who models his game after Goran Dragic, reportedly looked impressive in practice.

Both Euroleague players will be essentially fighting for that 15th spot in the Knicks roster.

“I’m trying to work hard. I’m trying to show myself. I’m trying to get better every day. I just want to show who I am,” Vildoza told reporters Saturday in his first media availability since the Knicks brought him for a partially guaranteed four-year deal last May. “If after that, I can’t get with the team, that’s okay. At least I gave everything.”

The Knicks have until the opening night of next season to guarantee Vildoza’s salary.

Vildoza is coming off a lackluster play in the Tokyo Olympics, where Argentina could only show one win in four games and got trashed in the quarterfinals.

“To be honest, we didn’t play as we know it. We played terrible. To be honest, I was missing a lot of shots I usually don’t miss. I was without confidence. Now, I’m trying to get back to where it was,” Vildoza said.

The 25-year old Argentine guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 steal playing behind Facundo Campazzo and Nico Laprovíttola. His shot looked shaky, converting only 31 percent from the floor and just 3 of 18 3s.

On the other hand, Jokubaitis has recently signed a four-year deal with Barcelona with an NBA escape clause. He was initially expected to be a draft-and-stash prospect. But the 36th overall pick isn’t discounting the possibility that he could come right away if he plays outstanding basketball in the NBA Summer League.

“Right now the plan is to go to Europe, but you never know in basketball because basketball is a sport where anything can happen,” Jokubaitis said during his zoom call Thursday in Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-4 Jokubaitis has secured clearance from Barcelona to play three Summer League games. He averaged 7.0 points and 2.5 assists in 31 Euroleague games last season for his Lithuanian club Zalgiris.

Vildoza joined his first practice with the Knicks Summer League team Saturday. He said he will be ready if ever he gets playing time when the Knicks open their campaign against fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors Sunday at 4:30 pm ET (ESPN2).

“It was actually very tough. I was trying to figure out the sets. In Europe, I usually play similar sets. I think I’m gonna get into the team as I know. But I was tired, to be honest. I didn’t sleep very well last night. The jetlag was very tough,” Vildoza said of his first practice with the Knicks. “But I am okay today (Saturday). I’m really happy to be here. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Vildoza is the flashy guard who is a streaky shooter, while Jokubaitis said he brings calmness and acts like a second coach on the floor.

Both Euroleague players are eager to prove themselves worthy of a spot. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Las Vegas.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

The Knicks plugged two massive holes with brilliant NBA Draft execution

miles mcbride, knicks

The New York Knicks clearly had a priority during the NBA draft, three-point shooting, and defense. Their selections are refined in both categories, specifically Miles McBride out of West Virginia and Houston stand out, Quentin Grimes.

The front office executed a flurry of trades, showing off their ability to work the system and add capital for the future. The team simply didn’t have the luxury of hosting four rookies next season, but with several players set to be utilized as trade pieces, the Knicks will likely have open roster spots for the taking.

In addition to several trade assets, the Knicks have upwards of six players hitting the free-agent market, so replacing them in some fashion was a necessity.

Knicks Draft Moves:

1.) Traded 19th pick to Hornets for future 1st rounder

2.) Traded 21st pick to Clippers for 25th pick and future 2nd round

3.) Traded 32nd pick to Oklahoma for 34th and 36th picks

Players selected:

G: Quentin Grimes, Houston

Quentin Grimes this past season:

-84th percentile in overall offense

-92nd percentile in transition

-86th percentile P&R ball handler

-70th percentile isolation

-72nd percentile off screens

-81st percentile on handoffs

G: Rokas Jokubaitis, Lithuania

-Combo guard

-Averaged 7.0 points per game in Euro League

-Faced off against good competition in Europe, showed signs of promise

PG: Miles McBride, West Virginia

-Defensively stout point guard

-Fits Tom Thibodeau’s system

-Solid shooter

-Biggest hands of any guard in draft class

-Shot above 41% from range last season

Taking a look at the biggest stand out traits:

McBride isn’t just a fantastic perimeter defender, he also shot 41% from three last season. He averages 15.9 points, 4.8 assists, and connected on 43% of his shots from the field. He is a high effort player who fits Thibodeau’s system perfectly. Allowing him to develop behind a veteran, potentially someone like Derrick Rose, will give him the confidence and time to adapt efficiently.

Grimes, on the other hand, is a perfect 3-and-D player for the Knicks, who could be outpaced in the Reggie Bullock sweepstakes. Grimes averaged 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and shot 40% front range last season. Featuring on one of the best defensive teams in college basketball, you can see the trend beginning to form here with Thibodeau’s strategy.

They clearly prioritized defense with offensive upside, depending on their coaching staff to extract value over time. Grimes has Alec Berks vibes on offense but offers far more on defense than the veteran contributed last season.

Aside from the two American-born players, the Knicks also landed Lithuanian native Rokas Jokubaitis. As a combo guard who featured in the Euro League last season, he has experience against better competition, which should allow him to translate nicely to the NBA.

One of his biggest selling points is defense, with the ability to play on and off-ball. With solid ballhandling and diversity in the back-court, his versatility should contribute toward playing time. Most didn’t anticipate the Knicks going this route, but they are looking for guards with potential, and both McBride and Jokubaitis offer just that.