Knicks thrash Kings: Immanuel Quickley shows off “Star potential”

Immanuel Quickley, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: John Minchillo/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
Immanuel Quickley, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: John Minchillo/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Knicks came into tonight with something to prove. The team has exceeded their preseason projetions, but the Knicks themselves truly believe that they can reach even greater heights. Their last 3 games: 2 losses and an ugly win, didn’t seem like the play of a playoff-caliber team. On Thursday night against The Sacramento Kings, the Knicks got their mojo back.

The Knicks came out in the first quarter looking to attack. Derrick Rose got the start for an injured Elfrid Payton, and his instant offense was a welcomed change from the usual stagnant 1st-unit. Rose came out hot, scoring 7 points within the first 3 minutes. The Knicks looked amped up, they closed out the first quarter up 38-29.

The rapid speed of the game is unfamiliar for the Knicks this season, who rank dead last in pace. Perhaps it was a sight of things to come.

New York Knicks: Rapid ball movement, floor spacing unlock the offense

Elfrid Payton was ruled out for tonight’s game, and maybe his absence and the awakening of the Knicks’ offense wasn’t a coincidence. The Knicks have plenty of capable passers, slashers, and shooters, and Thibodeau got to utilize his full roster.

Everyone was getting involved, the ball wasn’t dying, and the team looked like they were having fun. Let’s remember that this is a Tom Thibodeau team and that their identity will still always be about defense and physicality.

Let’s also remember that Thibodeau can learn how to adapt and make changes on the fly for the betterment of the team, and that’s exactly what happened Thursday night. The Knicks still had a strong physical presence in the paint – Randle, Noel, and Taj Gibson were wreaking havoc under the rim all night.

It was only in the third quarter where the Knicks started to fall asleep a bit. It seemed like another one of those instances where we were wanted to see quicker substitutions – the ball just wasn’t moving like it was earlier in the game. The Knicks entered the 4th up by just 7 points, and it felt like the team should’ve had a more commanding lead.

Then the 4th quarter happened, and it couldn’t have gone better. The eerie feeling about the Kings creeping closer quickly evaporated and the Knicks closed the door. Alec Burks was on fire – He had 19 of his 24 points in the 4th.

The other star of the night, was none other than rookie sensation Immanuel Quickley

New York Knicks: Immanuel Quickley shows why he needs a consistent, prominent role

Immanuel Quickley was on a tear all-game. He constantly found his spots, glided through screens, and showed just how hard he is to guard. Quickley finished the game with 25 points, including 12-12 from the free-throw line. Quickley is a nightmare for opponents to defend, and this was the confidence boost he needed after a few duds.

Outside of Julius Randle, Immanuel Quickley is the best “instant offense” player on the team. Tom Thibodeau cannot just look at this as a “random” Quickley performance, this should be a splash of cold water on the face, a realization as to what the Knicks have been missing lately: Creativity and shooting on offense.

Quickley’s performance isn’t just about his own 25 points, it’s about how well everyone else operates with actual floor spacing. Julius Randle and RJ Barrett had room to breathe: They were able to slash and find actual shooters on the perimeter, and they were even the beneficiaries of some open looks themselves – something they haven’t had lately.

The Knicks have to feel good about themselves after this win. The team once again finds themselves as the 6th seed in the East, and maybe they’ve discovered something out about themselves that can keep them there.

The New York Knicks will face a tough Pacers team on Saturday night. Hopefully, the team comes out with the same energy they had on Thursday.

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