Despite a discouraging loss to the Boston Celtics a few days after RJ Barrett’s primetime buzzer-beater, the New York Knicks have been playing better as of late.
They’ve won five of their past eight games (at the time this is being written) and have begun to enter postseason talks once again, currently tied with the Celtics for the final play-in spot.
A major reason for this positive stretch has been the improvements made by Immanuel Quickley.
With backup point guard Derrick Rose sidelined until February, the 22-year old has assumed the 6th man role and flourished in it.
Over his past eight games, Quickley is averaging 14.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and just 1.6 turnovers per game on 43-43-91 shooting splits.
While his overall numbers are similar compared to last year, he’s taken several developmental steps that should have fans even more excited about his future.
The New York Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley is stepping up at the perfect time
The first one that comes to mind is his efficient scoring, particularly at the end of games.
The Knicks bench has helped bring the team back into countless contests this year, including their 25-point comeback win in their matchup against Boston last Friday.
For the season, Quickley is shooting 44% from the field and 44% from three in the 4th quarter.
He also averages 4.7 points in 9.2 minutes per final frame, both of which are the highest mark of any Knick.
It speaks volumes that veteran head coach Tom Thibodeau trusts a sophomore combo guard to close out games more than anyone else on the roster.
While clutch shooting is always crucial to team success, it’s also important to recognize the actual stylistic changes that Quickley has made to his game in order to improve his overall play.
Specifically, the mid-range jump shot.
It’s no secret that the former Kentucky star relies heavily on his floater, and this was especially true during his rookie season.
However, it sometimes resulted in a detriment to his game.
Quickley often opted for a long floater instead of a pull-up jumper as a rookie, and it hurt his overall percentages.
While his floater often seemed automatic, he actually shot a mere 39.3% on these looks as a rookie due to his tendency to launch a deep floater when a jump shot would suffice.
This season, he’s corrected that issue while simultaneously showcasing a brand new elite aspect of his game.
Quickley has made a concerted effort to implement the mid-range shot into his offensive arsenal, and the results have been exemplary.
After hitting just 33.8% of his mid-range shots as a rookie, he’s connecting on a team-high 45.7% of his mid-range looks this season.
It allows him to utilize his advanced pull-up shooting ability while keeping defenders on their toes as they often sat back and awaited a floater last season.
With Rose still recovering from surgery, it’s important for the Knicks to have someone that can match his production while he’s gone.
Immanuel Quickley has stepped into that role and performed admirably as a result, playing a major part in New York’s recent success.