Knicks: Immanuel Quickley could be a key player in his rookie season

With a high kick, UK's Immanuel Quickley celebrates after scoring two of his 26 points and drawing the foul as the Wildcats beat Florida 65-59 Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Feb. 22, 2020Kentucky Plays Florida February 22 2020
With a high kick, UK's Immanuel Quickley celebrates after scoring two of his 26 points and drawing the foul as the Wildcats beat Florida 65-59 Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Feb. 22, 2020Kentucky Plays Florida February 22 2020 /

New York Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley was a prolific shooter at the University of Kentucky, and he could be an important part of the team in year one.

The New York Knicks have their roster pretty much set for the upcoming season, and now they will begin to figure out roles going forward. We all know the frustration fans had with New York’s rotations last season: no spacing, shooting, nor playmaking on offense, to go along with lackluster defense. It was difficult to watch.

What was most challenging to come to terms with was the team opting to play veterans on 1-year deals over their young players. And here we are heading into the new season, and the roster is still muddled with no defined roles.

One could push the narrative that the situation will ‘”motivate players” as everyone fights for their role on the team and nothing is handed out.

One of the young players who will be fighting for minutes is rookie Immanuel Quickley. The young guard will be competing in a crowded backcourt that includes Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Austin Rivers, and Elfrid Payton.

Coming onto a team as the 25th overall pick, it may be hard to crack a consistent rotation spot right away. However, Quickley’s greatest strength is that he is a lights-out shooter, something that the Knicks desperately need. It may earn him some significant playing time.

What do the Knicks have with Quickley?

Quickley played two seasons at Kentucky, and he really found his game in year two. His shooting splits in his sophomore season were 42 percent from the field, 43 percent from three, and 92 percent from the free-throw line.

The numbers that pop off the page are the long-distance and free-throw shooting. The Knicks were 4th worst in the league in 3-point field goal percentage and had the 2nd fewest attempts.

Let’s not get it twisted, Immanuel Quickley is more than just a spot-up shooter. Quickley projects as a combo guard. He has the skills that could potentially allow him to handle secondary ball-handling duties.

What that means is, no, Quickley is not the team’s point guard of the future, but he has the capability to take on some point guard duties. Quickley was recruited as a point guard. Some comparisons for his skillset include Patty Mills and Mario Chalmers.

From a physical profile, Quickley is smaller at 6’3″ with a slender build. That being said, he has a massive 6’9″ wingspan. If he can continue to add strength and bulk up, he could become a versatile perimeter defender for the Knicks.

How Quickley can help others develop

In terms of improving their floor spacing from last year, the Knicks need the bare minimum. They need competent shooters.

Quickley is far more than just “competent,” he was one of the best shooters in the entire draft. It may seem like too much emphasis on one attribute, but shooting is paramount in today’s game. When your lineup can’t shoot the ball from deep, opposing defenses will make it that much harder to get to the rim.

The Knicks gave big minutes to Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle last season, and it resulted in a completely clogged offense. They aren’t just hampering the offense with the ball in their hands, they’re affecting other teammates off-the-ball as well.

If the Knicks want to continue and develop their top prospects, they need to get the ball in their hands. Perhaps the Knicks’ most prized player, RJ Barrett, flashed some impressive playmaking ability in his rookie year. One of Barrett’s greatest strengths is attacking the basket. He combines his strength with slithery dribble moves to create space, and oftentimes he will look to kick out to a wide-open teammate on the perimeter.

What happens when that teammate is Elfrid Payton or Dennis Smith Jr.? Nothing happens. The inept offense was a major contributor to the poor efficiency stats from the Knicks’ younger players.

Quickley could be an elite shooter in the NBA, which is exactly what the Knicks need. The team should be excited to see how their late first round pick grows as a prospect in his own right, but it can’t be overlooked that he could play a big role in how the entire team develops and moves forward.

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Hopefully, Quickley will be able to find minutes in his rookie season and grow with the other young Knicks.