From the moment he stepped on the University of Kentucky campus as a freshman, New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley quickly established himself as one of the best shooters in the nation.
A near .400 three-point shooter in his two years for the Wildcats, including a sophomore campaign in which he drilled two or more threes in 25 games en route to SEC Player of the Year honors, Quickley was selected with the 25th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft , traded to the Knicks shortly after Oklahoma City called his name.
In his rookie campaign, the guard wasted no time getting used to the NBA scene, scoring at least 20 points on 11 different occasions. However, the big shooter has struggled to find a rhythm in the early stages of his third season, shooting .348 overall, .283 from three-point range and .789 from the foul line through Friday’s games.
The decline in outside shooting has been particularly concerning: Quickley hit .389 from a deep freshman season but slumped to .346 last year before dipping below the 30 percent mark in the early stages of his junior campaign. Last season started with a similar slump, with Quickley hitting just 25 percent of his attempts from deep in his first 10 games (9 of 36, including four in one game).
Quickley faces a similar challenge this season, looking to solve his shooting woes on a personal level.
“It always comes back if you put in the work,” the reserve guard said. “I know I will.”
“I didn’t even know I was under fire.” Am I? I’ve had amnesia.”
Quickley missed the perfect time in the Knicks’ final contest Friday night: he sank 2 of 3 attempts from deep, the latter serving as a dagger from the sideline in a 121-112 win over Detroit at Madison Square. Garden, stifled the Pistons’ comeback attempt with just over 40 seconds left.
“He’s a shooter so he’s got to have memory loss,” Knicks guard Derrick Rose said. “He’s probably heard it since he was a kid.” Put that shot behind you.”
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The Knicks’ bench contributor seems to have taken to heart the “shooter’s shot” mantra that every deep ball expert has heard at some point in his career. That spirit allowed him to end a shaky sophomore campaign on a relatively strong note, striking out at least one in the final 11 games of the season (with a .369 success). Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau clearly expects nothing more than Quickley to snap out of his slump, even in part encouraging it in recent statements.
“He’s a scorer, he’s got a scoring mindset,” Thibodeau said of Quickley’s ability from deep. “If he’s open, I don’t want him to hesitate. I want him to let it go.”
“I think a couple of easy baskets will get him going.” “It doesn’t take much. He can get hot very quickly.”
To his credit, Quickley has found other ways when his shots aren’t falling early: he notably grabbed 16 rebounds in a loss to Atlanta on Nov. 2 and also ranks third on the Knicks with 3.1 assists per game (tied for third on the team with RJ Barrett) while sharing New York’s lead in steals with Jalen Brunson (1.0).
Quickley and the Knicks are back in action Sunday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder (12 p.m. ET, MSG).
You can follow Riley Sheppard on Twitter @RileyDSheppard
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