As Kentucky G Immanuel Quickley dissects his competition on the Knicks, he’ll find two very talented point guards already acclimated in New York.
The first is Frank Ntilikina, a former first-rounder from France that has defense as a specialty and is working on building a consistent offensive rapport. Dennis Smith Jr. was taken just one pick after Ntilikina but finds himself battling for the top spot in the lineup with his explosiveness as a main strength in making that happen.
It will be tough for Quickley to come in as a rookie and break into the starting lineup. But the point guard position is so wide open that head coach Tom Thibodeau will have to look at everyone to see what his best option will be there. Standing out during training camp will be the key for Quickley, and he can do that by exploiting one facet of his game that the other two current point guards on the roster struggle with.
Having a point guard that is a consistent shooter has been something the Knicks have been searching for, and Quickley just might be that man. With the Wildcast last season, Quickley drained 43 percent of his shots beyond the arc. And he mentioned last night during his post-Draft presser that his jumpshot was something he really worked on.
“As far as my play, I feel like I fit in great. Can play on or off the ball. I feel like I bring shooting immediately -- that's something I worked on,” Quickley said.
That would be a great asset for Thibodeau to have at the top of the key, and as Quickley says, he is active off the ball as well. So he can run around and feel out defenses to get open for the right shot when he isn’t facilitating.
Of course, Quickley would have to up that assist total of 1.5 for his Kentucky career. He worked as a combo-guard with John Calipari, so it’s understandable that the total is low. But when you look at what Ntilikina and Smith have produced from three-point land over their careers thus far, it isn’t close to what you want to see.
Smith has hit only 31.4 percent of his threes for his career, with marks below 30 percent for the past two seasons with the Knicks. As for Ntilikina, his defensive prowess will get on Thibodeau’s good side considering his coaching leans more toward that side of the ball. But he’s shooting 31.1 percent from three, and 36.6 overall for his career. Not good.
If a scoring point guard is what the Knicks wanted, they just might have found it in Quickley. Calipari, a good friend of team president Leon Rose, pointed out Quickley’s work ethic and drive being impressive during his two years at Kentucky. And with former Wildcats assistant Kenny Payne joining Thibodeau’s staff, Quickley can’t wait to continue working alongside someone that pushed him to his limits during college.
We never know what Rose might have up his sleeve regarding point guards, though. Russell Westbrook and others have been mentioned in trade rumors with the Knicks, and Rose cleared $40 million in cap space on Thursday. So there’s more than ample room to go get a proven commodity. But Quickley is someone who can use his shooting to stand out above the rest and become a reliable scoring threat for Thibodeau off the rip.