One of the luxuries for the New York Knicks this season was their depth. They were a team that could seemingly rotate two different units on the court.
New York had ten players that averaged at least 15 minutes per game that were mainstays on the team.
Trading for Josh Hart only strengthened one of the deeper teams in the league. Hart would play 25 games for the Knicks in the regular season and only start one game. The starting lineup isn’t as important as the closing lineup, and Hart will be in the Knicks closing lineup for the foreseeable future. The former Portland Trail Blazer has started the last four games in the playoffs while Quentin Grimes deals with injuries.
Center Isaiah Hartenstein has really been playing good basketball since the trade deadline passed. Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson helped contribute to the Knicks being one of the best rebounding teams this season.
Obi Toppin provided some electric highlights this season and scored 18 points in the Game One loss against the Miami Heat with Julius Randle sidelined.
Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley was the name that brought fire into games for New York this season. Quickley had a really nice junior season where he averaged 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists. He also saw his effective field goal percentage go from 48.7 percent last season to 53.7 percent this season. IQ as many call him, was one of the best players off the bench this season and finished runner-up to the Boston Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon in the Sixth Man of The Year award voting.
Quickleys numbers in his 21 games as a starter were predictably better than the 60 games he came off the bench. He also played about 13 more minutes and attempted more shots per game as a starter. Nonetheless, the Knicks’ hybrid guard was still really effective on the court this season which is why the playoffs have been disappointing.
Where is the Immanuel Quickley we came to know this season?
The 25th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft has had a slow start to the 2023 playoffs. This isn’t his first taste of playoff basketball as he averaged 15.4 minutes and 5.8 points in the Knicks’ first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs.
Quickley is the player that is supposed to give the Knicks some life off the bench and also provide Jalen Brunson with some rest. IQ has shown over the course of the season he is more than capable of running the offense.
Through seven games, Quickley is averaging a weak 8.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 22.1 minutes. He’s also shooting 35.2 percent on 7.7 field goal attempts and 24.1 percent on four three-pointers per game.
This is not the dynamic player we saw this season.
I will give Quickley some benefit of the doubt and say his situation is not exactly great right now. Jalen Brunson is a full-on superstar and playing behind him is kind of a dead position. It’s not like he hasn’t gotten opportunities to play this postseason though. He’s seen 23, 23, 23, 19, 29, 27, and 9 minutes in seven games.
Only playing nine minutes in Game Two against the Heat brings up even more questions.
Jalen Brunson is dealing with an injury and still put up an efficient 30 points in 39 minutes. He did look slow and fatigued at times, which is understandable given his workload. Quickley just has to be more effective out there. Hopefully only playing nine minutes in Game Two will be more of a wake-up call rather than a reoccurring theme.
The 19 points he scored in 29 minutes in Game Five to help close out the Cleveland Cavaliers is the IQ we know.
It’s fair to be hard on him because he is a player that can swing playoff quarters coming off the bench and more should be expected. I expect Quickley to try to establish some offense or playmaking whenever he checks into Game Three.
Clear your head, remember your role and importance to this team, and show why you were the leading force on one of the NBA’s most effective second units.
The Knicks get a nice rest before tipping at 3:30 p.m. EST in Miami on Saturday, May 6th.
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