While the Knicks battle to secure their playoff standings, Immanuel Quickley is making the most of his opportunities.

With all the conversation surrounding Immanuel Quickley’s candidacy for Sixth Man of the Year, he may have quietly catapulted himself into having a real shot at being a starter in the near future. IQ has been a good soldier and has done everything the Knicks have asked but there may be a point moving forward when he is just too good to come off the bench.

The third-year Kentucky product is having his best season yet and is only getting better. He’s averaging 14.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game this season, numbers which don’t even come close to measuring his impact. He’s also proven to be durable and reliable, only missing one game the entire season so far; only Julius Randle and Isiah Hartenstein have played more. In keeping with a trend we’ve seen throughout his short career, he’s been able to once again take his game to another level after the All-Star break, averaging 19.3 points per game while helping the Knicks to a 10-6 record in that span. 

What’s truly impressive is Quickley’s ability to answer the call every time the Knicks have asked him to start in place of an injured teammate. Anyone can step up and have a good performance when coming into the starting lineup but Quickley has been outstanding when he starts for the Knicks. And it just isn’t a handful of games, there is a significant enough sample size to make a case that he’s well on his way to earning a starting spot in the future. In 17 starts this season, he’s averaging 21.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game on 46.8/37.8/83.1 shooting percentage splits.

In the Knicks’ latest game, another starting opportunity for Himothée Chalomet, Quickley propelled his team to victory in what was probably the best performance of his career. He scored a career-high 40 points on 14-18 shooting from the field to help his case for a starting job going forward. If Quickley’s growth continues, there’s a reasonable argument that his role will need to grow too.

While he’s made his goals clear, Immanuel Quickley is still a team-first guy. He’s said as much recently in an interview with Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, “…I want to be a starter down the line. You don’t work your whole life to … you know? But I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do. It’s about winning, at the end of the day.” And at the end of the day, the Knicks are winning. The playoffs will be a great chance for Immanuel to stake his claim moving forward while helping the team try to reach its goals.

Having two good, young, two-way guards in Quick and Quentin Grimes is a good problem to have for the Knicks to have, and given their respective ages, the team doesn’t have to make any decisions just yet, but their long-term commitment to IQ, and how that looks, will be something they have to consider between now and next summer when his rookie contract is up. If he continues on this trajectory he’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

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