‘He’s Not Afraid of Big Moments’: Knicks All-Star, Coach Praise Rising Guard

Immanuel Quickley

Getty New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley celebrates after a made shot during a February 2 game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Fans were doubtful that the final stretch of this New York Knicks season would provide many silver linings, but Immanuel Quickley‘s play is no doubt changing their minds.

Over the six games following the NBA’s All-Star Break, the 22-year old is averaging 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and only 1.3 turnovers while putting up a 51/46/96 shooting split.

Quickley’s play has been instrumental in the Knicks’ last two wins over the LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings.

He scored 48 points, dished 10 assists, and hit six threes between the two matchups.

It may not mean much to fans in the long run, but if Immanuel Quickley’s able to sustain this play over the team’s last 17 games, that’s a solid consolation prize for the lottery-bound New York Knicks.

Their latest comments suggest he’s at least caught the eyes of teammate Julius Randle and head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Randle: ‘That’s What He Does’

Following their commanding 131-115 win over the Sacramento Kings, Immanuel Quickley was a hot topic for the players and coaching staff in their postgame availability.

Julius Randle, who scored a career-high 46 points, was effusive in his praises (via the New York Post) of the 22-year old:

Quick’s been playing great. I think the biggest thing with him is he’s playing free. He’s kind of clearing his mind and going out there and hooping and trusting his work…He’s probably one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around, especially for a kid that young. So he’s just got to keep going, keep playing like that.

Not to be outdone, head coach Tom Thibodeau made sure to recognize Quickley’s recent play too:

I think when he’s open, he shoots. When he’s guarded, he makes the play. He’s playing really great defense, hustling. He’s rebounding the ball, doing a lot of really good things. He’s crafty. He’s not afraid of big moments. When he plays like that, he’s really, really good.

Randle echoed the sentiments about the guard’s playmaking abilities:

I just think that he’s being who he is as a player. He’s not really worried about playmaking and stuff like that. He’s a scorer. He’s a shooter. He can shoot the ball and knows how to put the ball in the basket. That’s who he is at heart and he’s not worrying about the other things as much.

Ironically enough, Quickley downplayed his scoring when asked about the uptick in his production, crediting an all-around effort and his teammates for his recent stretch of games:

I feel like I’m defending a little bit better, so that helped me out, trying to rebound a little bit more. Finding other ways to affect the game other than just scoring, so that always helps. And I got some great teammates. RJ [Barrett] and Julius played great [in Sacramento] and we’re getting some wins now, so that’s what it’s all about.

Perhaps the correlation between Immanuel Quickley’s rise and the New York Knicks’ back-to-back wins will finally get him a bump into the starting lineup.

Because the current starter, Alec Burks, couldn’t look any less fit for the job.

Burks’ Struggles Continue

Alec Burks finished Monday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings with just five points and four assists on two-of-nine shooting from the field.

It’s the latest in a string of poor shooting performances as the 11-year veteran struggles being played out of position at starting point guard.

According to Basketball Reference’s Play-by-Play tracker, Burks’ 487 minutes at point guard this season are his most spent at the position since 2011.

The result has been a stagnant Knicks offense, with the veteran’s hesitance or impatience with his inexperience running an offense flashing every other possession.

Thibodeau said on February 23rd that upon digging into the numbers, he’d concluded that Burks was the team’s best option at point guard.

Yet lineups with the 30-year old at point guard have been some of the team’s worst this season, and analytically, don’t stack up well with the rest of the league.

Per Cleaning the Glass, in the 1,214 possesions the Knicks have played with Burks at point guard, they’re scoring 109.9 points per 100 possesions and allowing 114.1 points per on defense.

Those numbers rank in the 36th and 29th percentiles respectively; incredibly poor.

With only 17 games remaining to a season that’s all-but lost, it’s become a war between the fans and the New York Knicks head coach over what should be prioritized down the stretch.

The development of Immanuel Quickley seems like a good place to start.

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