Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley proves his worth despite poor shot

SAN FRANCISCO — Immanuel Quickley made an impact for the Knicks on Wednesday night without scoring much, a perfect snapshot of his season so far.

Known primarily for his offensive ability early in the season, the third-year guard’s shooting numbers are down — he’s shooting a career-worst 29.3% from 3-point range and averaging just 8.9 points — but its overall value is not.

“That’s one of my goals: to be a two-way player,” he said Friday before the Knicks took on the Warriors to continue their five-game road trip.

Quickley was the team’s best defender by defensive metric. With him on the court, the Knicks are allowing 101.8 points per game per 100 possessions. He’s also the Knicks’ leader in net rating: they’ve outscored opponents by 6.1 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court. He has committed just three turnovers in his last seven games, while collecting 20 assists.

Immanuel Quickley’s defense emerged despite his shooting problems.

Quickley’s biggest moment of the young season came Wednesday night when the Knicks rallied to knock out the Nuggets, handing them their first home loss. Quickley defended Jamal Murray in the dying seconds, didn’t attempt any of his foul balls and forced him to airball when time expired.

“I really think just trying to do the [player you’re guarding] take a hard hit – sometimes you face great players and they succeed; sometimes you go against them and they miss it,” he said. “That’s why you want to do it, try to make it as difficult as possible every time they shoot or try to play. That’s really about all you can do, and in this time it works.

The biggest change in Quickley’s game is rebounding. He’s catching 4.8 boards per game, well above the 3.2 he averaged a year ago. He was particularly effective at helping the Knicks’ big men on the defensive glass and starting the break, a major team strength.

He attributed some of that to putting on more muscle in the offseason. It weighs about eight pounds. He also attributed it to a habit he picked up in Kentucky: viewing.

“Before the game, I imagine myself scoring and making plays. I imagine myself bouncing back,” Quickley said. “I do stuff like that, visualization. And then when the game comes, that is nothing but my imagination that takes [over during] the course of the game.”

Quickley’s future with the Knicks is uncertain. His name has been included in trade rumors over the summer and there have been recent reports that the Knicks have discussed moving him for future draft pick compensation. Asked about these rumours, Quickley said his goal was to continue this winning journey, in which he played a major role. He scored 13 points in a win over the Jazz and had six assists and five rebounds against the Nuggets.

“Whatever the team asks me to do, I try to go out there and do it to help the team win,” Quickley said. “In defense, one night it could be my night to go for 25, another night it could be to keep the best player.”

New York Post

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