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New York Knicks: Immanuel Quickley should be team’s 2022-23 point guard

Robbie Stratakos

Immanuel Quickley’s standing with the New York Knicks is an enigma. He was instant offense off head coach Tom Thibodeau’s bench during his rookie season of 2020-21 and held down that same role in his second season.

New York is at a crossroads. The team missed the Eastern Conference Playoffs altogether one year after claiming the fourth seed. Julius Randle, who they extended on a four-year deal, had a discouraging season, and the Knicks don’t have a definitive long-term point guard.

Sticking with New York’s uncertainty at point guard, the team’s answer for the 2022-23 season is in the building with Quickley.

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Immanuel Quickley has continually flashed potential

new york knicks' immanuel quickley
Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Across his two years in the NBA, Quickley has shown that he’s a starting-caliber guard. He has infinite range with his jump shot, can shoot off the dribble and be a microwave scorer. Quickley is also capable of scoring off the dribble as a whole and creating for others.

The Knicks have shuffled veteran ball-handlers across Quickley’s career (Elfrid Payton, Austin Rivers, Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker). Rose is the only player who panned out to be a justified starter in place of Quickley. Somehow, someway Quickley logged just three starts this season, one that saw the Knicks finish 11th in the East. How is that possible?

Quickley has mostly been utilized in an off-the-ball bench role, which could mean Thibodeau and company don’t view him as a primary ball-handler. That said, what do they have to lose in at least experimenting with Quickley in such a role? He has chemistry with their offensive focal points (Randle and RJ Barrett) and roster in general.

Quickley is part of a Kentucky alumni that’s rich in active NBA guards. That list includes Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox, Tyler Herro, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quickley’s former college teammate, Tyrese Maxey.

Of course, every player is distinguished from the other in some way. At the same time, Quickley’s efficiency in a reserve role makes one wonder whether he has the potential to join that growing list of star guards.

Immanuel Quickley is the New York Knicks’ most enticing point guard option

The only thing that would be more criminal than the Knicks not yet giving Quickley a tryout as their starting point guard is them not doing it again next season. Why? There isn’t a clear-cut point guard upgrade for them on the free agent market, trade market or in the draft.

Jalen Brunson leaving the Dallas Mavericks is far-fetched, as he became their second-best player and figures to re-sign after the team’s deep playoff run. Collin Sexton reportedly wants $18-22 million per season, which is a difficult sell given him coming off a torn meniscus and the Cleveland Cavaliers finding success without him.

Concerning the draft, Kentucky’s TyTy Washington (he does a little bit of everything) and Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler (he’s a composed ball-handler and scorer) have their compelling strong suits. That said, drafting a point guard sets the clock back on development at that position. Quickley is already two years down the road.

How about a veteran point guard on the free-agent market? The sly Ricky Rubio could be a sound facilitator for the Knicks’ offense. Maybe Dennis Schroder takes the Knicks’ point guard gig and takes off? If bought out, John Wall would be an impactful short-term solution. The problem is these players are poised to be another stopgap for the franchise, as they’ve either bounced around the league, recently endured a substantial injury or are nearing the 18th green.

New York has sported a new opening night point guard in each of the last nine seasons. That’s absurd. That number will inevitably hit 10, but hitting it with Quickley removes some of the stench from the narrative. He has tangible upside and would have a minimal, if any acclimation period.

Related: 4 moves the New York Knicks must make after disappointing season

New York Knicks can select a wing in the NBA Draft

NBA: New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Quickley serving as the starting point guard, Rose, who missed most of this season due to various injuries, can be the lead guard of the second unit. Rose provides a veteran and able scorer who can start in a pinch. If injures hit the veteran, young guard Miles McBride can step in Rose’s place. With the point guard rotation sorted out, the Knicks can focus on a wing with the No. 11 pick.

Yes, the Knicks are deep out on the wing and would have to make moves to clear out a rotation spot. They can do as such by moving at least two of Walker, Alec Burks and Cam Reddish. Maybe they include Reddish, a former lottery selection, or Burks as part of a trade package to move up a few spots from No. 11?

This draft is deep in lottery-caliber wings. Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin is an athletic shooter who’s explosive in attacking the basket. Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis is an attacking scorer and gritty player on both ends of the floor. Duke’s AJ Griffin is a high-level shooter. Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji is a proven shooter and nimble finisher.

In thought, one of those four players backs up Evan Fournier. Down the road, Fournier will be a prime trade candidate with his contract nearing the finish line, clearing the way for the presumptive draftee to start.

Starting Quickley allows the Knicks to accurately assess what’s in the building, experience minor, if any philosophical tweaks and draft the best player on the board. If Quickley excels, the Knicks have a building block at a pivotal position. Worst-case scenario, he goes back to his current role.