Now in Las Vegas after accepting invites to be part of the Team USA Select Team, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin are trying to make the most of their experience playing alongside some of their talented younger peers, as well as some of the brightest stars in the NBA on Team USA.
An absolute gunner in his rookie season from deep (39% from deep on 4.7 attempts per game), Quickley has honed in on some of the other skills that he needed improvement on his rookie year, like midrange shooting and driving, as well as running point:
“I’m just trying to work on things that I didn’t necessarily show last year, which is my mid-range game, my pullup, creating for my teammates and consistently running a team,” Quickley said of his experience with the Select Team thus far.
He’s getting some help from some pretty high places, too, with Kevin Durant showing some interest in the Knicks’ rookie. Maybe we should go a little easier on KD next year if Quickley breaks out (...nah):
In his answer below, Immanuel Quickley references talking to Kevin Durant at USA Basketball training camp. Later in the same interview, Quickley said Durant told him today that they could work out together while at training camp: pic.twitter.com/SwdxzD9lvU— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 8, 2021
Quickley presumably will be spending a lot of time in Vegas this summer, first with Team USA, and then later this summer with the Knicks’ Summer League squad, which will actually be his first appearance on that stage thanks to COVID-19. Hopefully he can bust out some of his new moves on the lesser competition to get ready for the NBA season.
Toppin also spoke about what he’s been working on, as well as a glimpse into how things went for him and some of the other Knicks after New York was bounced from the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round:
From Las Vegas, Obi Toppin told me on Zoom the playoff experience was “a confidence-booster.”— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) July 8, 2021
As far as what he’s working on at the Team USA camp, it seems like Obi is content to just take in whatever knowledge he can from the star-studded roster around him:
“The message, [the coaches] told me coming here is just be a sponge,’’ Toppin said. “There’s great coaches and players out here and just get better and develop my game. I’m working really hard in this offseason to be better for my second season coming up. It’s going be a lot different than the first season.’’
If the people running Team USA weren’t total dunces, maybe Julius Randle would be with the big team right now, too, continuing to pass knowledge to Obi in the offseason. But apparently Kevin Love having played for the team before made him a better candidate, what with his whopping 25 games played this year.
At any rate, we probably won’t get to see too much action from Team USA vs. the Select Team, unless a few scrimmages get broadcast on NBATV. But if nothing else, maybe we’ll get to see some of the fruits of IQ and Obi’s labors in Summer League next month.