I don’t think I could perfectly describe what needs to change for New York Knicks combo guard, Immanuel Quickley, to improve upon a pretty impressive rookie campaign. He already has the work ethic to correct things for himself, and he has shown that with all the pictures of sweaty shirts he’s shared in the last couple of weeks.
That said, it’s a matter of when and not if he can work over the summer to improve his game, and he’s already hard at work.
Seeing this is somewhat new for Knicks fans. Players have entered the offseason the last decade or so and have come back either the same as they were or worse. We’ve become too conditioned to that.
This season changed that around, as evidenced by Julius Randle’s historic campaign in a blue and orange uniform, paired with RJ Barrett’s ascent from subpar three-point shooter to perimeter sniper. So much for never being able to shoot.
Back to the point, though, Quickley could still use some work, and we’ll discuss that further.
Save the floaters
First and foremost, I’m not calling for a complete removal of the floater. The Float GOAT should never abandon his forte, but seeing a little less of it would still be nice.
Watching that floater go up can be tantalizing, and it become somewhat of a crutch for Quickley who, for the most part, doesn’t have any scoring variety outside of long-distance shooting and his “specialty” shot.
Expanding his game inside the arc would be so beneficial and that can’t be understated. Having the ability to consistently stop and pop a shot at the elbow or closer opens up a door that gets his teammates more open looks or amplifies his chances at getting to the free-throw line.
Finishing at the rim, too, helps this issue. I don’t have the tally, but I swear Quickley attempted five total layups at the rim all season. And we foresaw this anyway.
Coming out of college, finishing at the rim was one of his biggest flaws, and that needed to be addressed. With a full offseason of Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks’ revamped training staff, we should see all of this issues covered.
IQ has to raise his… well, IQ
Quickley is a smart kid, a workhorse, and doesn’t shy away from criticism. That’s important.
But there has to be a stern conversation regarding his decision making from time to time. We’ve seen Quickley get caught up with passes to teammates where he had no immediate intention of getting rid of the ball, and when he finally decides to, turns that possession into a mess.
That comes with the territory of being a cold-blooded scorer at heart.
To a degree, Quickley is not a natural point guard, no matter what he said about playing the position in high school. But he has the instincts still. He whips passes out of the paint to the corners fairly well when that is his intention, that’s just not often the case.
In the series against Atlanta, Quickley had five total assists. He had an exemplary Game 1 and fell too much in love with three-point shooting, another part of his decision making process having to change.
I adore his confidence in his ability to score and in all actuality, when his shots fall the crowd becomes electric.
When the ball is in his hands, the tempo of the game changes for the better, he just has to capitalize on the gravity he brings to the offense by mentally slowing down to focus.
I don’t question one bit that Quickley is going to completely remake himself this offseason. There are possibilities he might not even be in the long-term plans, but as a Kentucky Wildcat, and with the Knicks adopting the Knicktucky nickname, there may still be hope.
Being the “steal” of his draft class comes with expectations, so naturally Knicks fans will hold Quickley to higher standards.
I look forward to seeing his growth, because the concern for Knick fans these last 30-40 years has always been finding the point guard of the future, and we’ve missed that chance all this time.
If Quickley can turn himself into that, then we’re talking about a late first-round hero, one that dug into his craft and made changes for the better to make this team great again.