Immanuel Quickley layup vs Kings
Entering Thursday’s game against Sacramento, Immanuel Quickley had missed 19 of his last 22 shots.
It’s the kind of mini-slump that might weigh heavily on some young shooters.
But Tom Thibodeau wasn’t concerned about Quickley.
“Everyone has a ton of confidence in him,” the Knicks coach said. “We know he’s got a lot of confidence in himself.”
That confidence translated to a remarkable night from Quickley. The rookie guard had 25 points (3-for-6 from beyond the arc) in New York’s blowout win over Sacramento (which might be the worst team in the NBA right now).
Quickley, selected by the Knicks with the 25th overall pick in the 2020 Draft, got to the line 12 times and knocked down all 12 free throws.
He’s shooting 93 percent from the line on the season.
That’s been valuable for New York (16-17). Quickley has drawn fouls at a remarkable rate. He’s 14th in the NBA on the list of fouls drawn per 36 minutes (minimum 25 games).
Quickley says film study is one of the keys to his ability to get to the line.
“I also have a guy next to me in Julius Randle who draws fouls,” he said late Tuesday while Randle stood next to him during an interview over Zoom. “Just watching how he does it, watching film on some of the great players in our league, watching how they do it. Just taking parts of other people’s game and try to use it in mine is something that I look into.”
Randle wasn’t surprised that Quickley draws fouls as frequently as he has so far in his rookie season.
“It’s amazing but he works on it,” Randle said. He compared Quickley’s approach to what he’d seen from former teammate Lou Williams, who worked on creating contact daily. “Quick does the same,” said Randle, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds in the win.
Quickley’s approach to his craft is one of the reasons the Knicks feel good about his future in the league. (Quickely has been seeking out advice and asking questions of players in the league since he started preparing for the draft last March.)
The 20-year old also works hard, something Thibodeau has cited regularly when he talks about Quickley.
“It starts with preparation,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a gym rat and student of the game.”He also looks like a significant part of this team’s future.
Thursday night only reinforced that idea.
Frank Ntilikina seeing action:
With Elfrid Payton sidelined with a hamstring injury, Derrick Rose started at point guard for New York. He got the Knicks off to a strong start. But Sacramento chipped away at the Knicks’ early lead. And Thibodeau went to Frank Ntilikina as his shooting guard off the bench.
Playing for the first time since Dec. 29, Ntilikina was solid (7 points, 3 steals) in 23 minutes. New York outscored Sacramento by 17 when he was on the floor.
Ntilikina, Quickley and Alec Burks (24 points, 5-8 from beyond the arc) were the driving forces behind a strong night from the Knick bench. Granted, it came against arguably the worst team in the NBA at the moment (Sacramento has lost nine in a row).
But the way the ball moved with Rose starting and Ntilikina-Quivers sharing the backcourt with the reserves will, at least, give Thibodeau something to think about moving forward.
It also may have boosted Ntilikina’s value around the league as the March 25 trade deadline approaches. (The same can be said of Burks).
It will be interesting to see if Ntilikina gets minutes on Saturday against Indiana. Payton’s status for Saturday’s game is unknown.