The Knicks went on to solve their point guard problem with their lottery pick – instead, they took on Obi Toppin.
But the Knicks may have just hit the point-guard jackpot with their other first-rounder – Kentucky combo guard Immanuel Quickley, who goes on to make the fake drafts look silly.
In his second game, after failing to leave the bench in the preseason opener, Quickley, who was selected 25th, showed that he may well be up to the point guard role in the NBA.
Quickley’s electricity and zest for life spurred the Knicks to a fourth-quarter comeback in Wednesday’s 100-93 win over the Cavaliers in the fanless Garden.
His ability to slide through the Cavaliers’ defense, set up his mates, and get to the free-throw line led to a dead team losing the game from the 3-point line. Quickly scored nine points with nine assists in 24 minutes.
“I thought Quick was great – ball pressure, the fact that he can shoot the way he can, it opens the floor,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.
His 3 or 11 shooting ledger didn’t tell the story of its effectiveness. Normally a solid 3-point shooter, he was 1 of 6 from outside the arc, but teams have to respect him, unlike starting point guard Elfrid Payton, for example.
The bigger story was how Quickley fearlessly leads the assault that flowed majestically during that 34-13 fourth quarter.
‘I’ve been a point guard all my life. I feel like I’m versatile playing with the ball, ‘said Quickley. “I feel like when I came in, I was trying to tell all the NBA teams that I am someone who happened to play that one year, my sophomore year, in Kentucky. I really can do both. And I am glad the Knicks chose me. I am glad to be here. The fans are great. So I just feel like I really can do both. ”
In most mock drafts, Quickley was positioned as a mid-to-late second round pick, despite being named SEC Player of the Year. The Knicks have that pipeline in Kentucky with their two executives, Leon Rose and William Wesley, former John Calipari agents.
In addition, new assistant Kenny Payne was Calipari’s right-hand man and he lobbied for Quickley’s selection. Perhaps that extra information will pay off.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still sick and has not made his debut, which could jeopardize his chances of making the team. … Omari Spellman made his debut when Mitchell Robinson ran into problems early on. He bricked up two outside shots. … Frank Ntilikina (Achilles), Nerlens Noel (knee pain) and Alec Burks missed Wednesday’s game. Reggie Bullock started for Burks with a small forward and struggled with his 3-point shot (1 of 6). … Austin Rivers (groin drawn) will miss all four preseason games.
Toppin was pegged to go to Cleveland at number 5 in most mock drafts, but the Cavaliers took on Isaac Okoro, a defensive wing who has scored double digits in each of their three games.
“It went all the way to draft night,” said Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff. It was back and forth. It was a debate. We decided what need he fulfilled on the defensive side of the floor. “