Immanuel Quickley has defied expectations at every turn and secured his standing in the NBA and with the Knicks in the process.

Now that the trade deadline has officially passed, we can stop focusing on hypothetical Knicks from the other 29 teams and return our attention to the current roster. Mileage may vary on whether you are happy or sad about the complacency of the Leon Rose regime which has once again shown an unwillingness to make major moves. Regardless of how you feel, it leaves the roster filled with players we have seen develop over the course of their time with the Knicks. Nobody is a better reflection of that journey than the third-year guard out of Kentucky.

Immanuel Quickley was a much-maligned draft pick out of Kentucky, even receiving numerous groans from The Knicks Wall staffers on the live watch party. He was famously given a D+ draft grade by CBS Sports  where Gary Parrish had this to say: “His upside just does not match this place in the draft, but he could be a good shooter if nothing else.” This statement followed up the statement that Quickley was drafted 30 spots higher than he expected.

 

This was par for the course with the Knicks discourse on draft night and the months that followed; the complaints about IQ were about the one-dimensional nature of him as a prospect. You could not read a scouting report on Quickley that did not steadfastly state that he brought no skills to the court outside of his jump shot. On the TKW live show, I even went as far as to say that “he had no NBA-level skills outside of his shooting” and in this case, I am happy to be wrong.

When looking at potential prospect development, it is important to understand the multitude of variables that impact growth and development. Development is not always linear and there are players that are not able to show the entirety of their ability in college depending on their contextual situations.

When you look at what Quickley was asked to do under Calipari and how that reflected on him as a prospect, he was a one-dimensional shooter who was mostly praised for his 40/90 three-point and free-throw shooting splits. There were few other positives that he displayed at Kentucky and that was the reason he was mostly projected as a second-round pick. There was little hope for growth for IQ, who was largely described as a “low-ceiling” prospect.

Quickley has far exceeded the expectations that followed him as the 25th pick. The Kentucky guard outperforms the average 25th pick of the draft by a pretty wide margin when that list includes the likes of Victor Wembenyama’s teammate Anzejs Pasecniks. Whether right or wrong, fans were clamoring for players such as Desmond Bane or Tyrell Terry who were held in much higher esteem as prospects. But the chip on his shoulder has remained there through his first three years. So let’s get into the numbers and look at what Quickley has done that has outperformed those initial scouting reports from Lexington.

Much has been written about Quickley’s growth in terms of his defense and his long-term role here on TKW. I want to look at his growth not only over his NBA career but compared to his initial scouting reports as a prospect. Quickley had many questions out of college due to his size, frame, and defense. While he was not a disaster defensively as a Kentucky Wildcat, he was still a skinny, smaller, scoring combo guard. That is always going to bring a level of risk to a prospect defensively who does not have an NBA-ready body or a frame to compete at the next level.

Now, three years later as a 23.5-year-old “veteran” of the league, Quickley is categorized as a “wing” according to Cleaning the Glass. Among all wings in the NBA, Quickley is top-20 in assist percentage as well as assist-to-usage percentage. Those are two categories in which he was 55th and 76th, respectively, as a rookie, showing consistent growth in both of those categories. While it has been much debated on “Point IQ” on Knicks Twitter over the years, the numbers actually do show that he can be trusted with the ball in his hand. He is currently ninth in the NBA in turnover percentage compared to his position group.

Coming out of college, the narrative was that he could shoot threes but not finish at the rim or be able to attack the basket whatsoever. Over his three years in New York, over 30% of his shots are coming within 10 feet of the basket and he is showing a healthy shot profile with a diverse portfolio of ways to score. The highest rate of shot creation for Quickley comes from pull-up jumpers which contribute to 41% of his overall shot attempts. That is something he has improved throughout his career and something he did not show off the dribble at Kentucky.

Not only has he added to his bag with increased creative ways to score outside of his patented floater, but he has become a more complete offensive player. His usage rate has actually gone down over each of the three years when he is on the court, but he has shown adaptability to different roles positionally. His assist numbers have gone down given the addition of Jalen Brunson into the backcourt, but the turnover rate has gone down exponentially as well.

He has become a secondary passer and playmaker who can facilitate and push in transition or when attacking from advantageous situations. Excuse the bad pun, but the IQ that IQ has shown in the NBA was not something that was ever expected to translate to the professional level. While we could have anticipated a Kentucky guard showing more than he was allowed to show in Rupp Arena like the likes of Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, and Tyler Herro, Quickley’s game was devoid of nuance and subtlety. The criticisms were valid but that is what makes the growth and consistency he has played with in his short career even more impressive.

Offensively, the versatility that Quickley has brought to the Knicks was not something that was ever mentioned on a pre-draft scouting report. He presents on and off-ball versatility that was discussed during that draft with other guards like Tyrell Terry, and he does so in a variety of ways. The Knicks are a +9.3 point differential with Quickley on the court and one of the reasons for that is the offensive efficiency. They are in the 79th percentile for effective field goal percentage and 88th percentile for turnover percentage with Quickley on the court. The ball security and scoring variety that he provides play a huge role in a way that was never expected of an “off-ball shooter” with a limited offensive role and ceiling. Simply put, when Quickley is rolling, the Knicks are a good bet against any team in the league. Basketball sports bettors are looking for the best New York betting sites to enhance their bets, so next time Immanuel Quickley has it going, you kow where to head to.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe had this to say about Quickley in a recent “10 things” article: “He has turned into a sixth starter who shape-shifts between roles. On units with only one or two starters, Quickley orchestrates more. In starter-heavy groups, Quickley flits around as an opportunistic spot-up scorer – pushing the pace, jacking catch-and-shoot threes, knifing into the paint for floaters and kick-outs when defenders run him off the arc.” That versatility has allowed a historically uncreative coach in Tom Thibodeau to use IQ in creative ways as a part of various rotations and rosters across roles and positions. The ability to fit in no matter the contextual situation is a superpower Quickley has shown over time.

The biggest narrative about Quickley this year has been about his defensive advancements. IQ has become the perimeter anchor defensively on a team that includes prospects touted for their defense like Quentin Grimes and Deuce McBride. The defense was a pleasant surprise early in his career and was always better than expected. It is no longer just a nice little addition, now it is a major factor for the most defensive-minded coach in the Association. Quickley has become a real-deal, All-Defensive team type of player who is one of the smartest and most consistent defenders in the league.

Quickley’s mind and his mouth have become a part of the discourse as he is becoming known for an elite defensive awareness to the point where he is calling out the plays before other teams run them. Quickley’s ability to not get lost and stay in plays is an incredibly impressive skillset. He has a positional awareness defensively that allows team defense to thrive and rely on him to secure a top-10 defense.

Every single metric and analytic reflects this. The Knicks allow -12.3 points per 100 possessions with Quickley on the court. He gives you lineup versatility and helps hide Jalen Brunson’s flaws defensively but can play with any combination of guards and wings on the roster. The opposing field goal percentage that Quickley is allowing is 36.3% from 15 feet and deeper and is letting his opponents make under 5 field goals a game.

Quickley passes the eye test, he passes Thib’s test as the Knicks old school head coach has said: “The thing I love about Quick is that he’s smart, he’s very, very smart…He knows, he understands what he has to do to help our team defense. I think it’s his greatest strength.”  That defensive intellect and versatility have made a massive difference in his impact on the game. Quickley has become much more than ever could have been expected of him on both sides of the ball.

A low-ceiling prospect with little versatility who was put in boxes as a one-dimensional offensive shooter has become a two-way threat that can fit into various roles across different lineups. It has been fun to watch him grow and develop in his time at the Knicks and with the rate of growth he has made in New York, one can only help but be curious about what he is capable of going forward. This is one situation where I was happy to be wrong and Immanuel Quickley will continue proving people wrong on both sides of the ball.

Related Content

»Read: What Do The Knicks Have To Offer Kevin Durant? 

»Read: The Knicks’ Trade Deadline Primer

»Read: Diving Into Media Coverage of the Knicks