John Calipari breaks down why Knicks choosing Kentucky G Immanuel Quickley was ‘a ‘hell of a pick’

Immanuel Quickley soaks in win

When the Knicks chose Kentucky G Immanuel Quickley No. 25 overall, his now former head coach John Calipari was ecstatic. He knew that going to New York would do great things for Quickley right from the start of his NBA career.

During his Monday press conference, Calipari went into even more detail as to why he believes that.

One of the first comments Calipari made when asked about Quickley going to the Knicks was the guard’s work ethic on and off the court. And it was a work ethic that Quickley built because he wasn’t granted a starting role during his freshman year with the Wildcats. He truly had to earn his way on to the hardwood.

Coach Cal really broke down why that mindset is going to help the Knicks and Quickley moving forward.

“Everybody on this call that’s the Kentucky media knows he’s one of the great kids that I’ve coached,” Calipari started. “And here’s my question: I’m into analytics but there are certain things that analytics can’t evaluate. One is you can go where you wanted to go, but you pick a school that’s going to be really hard with other really good players and you may have to take a step back but you pick that school anyway. How do you evaluate that? Or do you go where they just promise you whatever you want, how many shots, ok, that’s one.

“How do you evaluate a young man who beginning of his second year was good enough to start but I didn’t want a three-guard rotation. I would have three point guards in at one time. So the first seven games I don’t start him. He trusts the process, he trusted me and by the end of the year he’s [SEC] Player of the Year in the league and going away [to the NBA]. Player of the Year in our league and we win our league by three games. How do you analyze that? How do you evaluate?”

It’s a perspective that most Knicks fans might not have about Quickley, especially considering more well-known point guards like RJ Hampton could’ve been chosen by New York if they just stayed at No. 23 overall. He’s a player that may have won a highly-distinguished award, but “is on a mission” still as Calipari put it. Quickley will also reunite with Kenny Payne, the new Knicks assistant that helped groom him with Kentucky, so that’s certainly a plus.

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And finally, Calipari believes Quickley’s game is already one that fits today’s NBA mold. Stretching the floor, being a threat from beyond the arc, and playing downhill are all facets of today’s game that Quickley has shown in college.

“This guy is going to stretch the court. And the NBA has changed: it’s about lane touches and being able to stretch the court by the threat of making threes. If you can’t hoot a three, you’re not going to be a guard in that league anymore.

“Second thing is he’s played dribble-drive, downhill basketball with a spaced court. It’s going to be spaced more now because of the way the NBA plays it.”

Quickly will definitely have some point guard competition, especially with veteran Austin Rivers signing a one-year deal with New York. But Calipari is confident he can develop into a crucial cog in this developing Knicks machine for years to come.

And it starts with his character first and foremost.

“I think what you’re going to find out is a guy that mentally is ready, is on a mission, is a gym rat, is a culture guy. Great faith, big family that unconditionally loves him and he knows it and he’s comfortable in his skin. They made a great one, it was a hell of a pick.”

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