Immanuel Quickley — not Obi Toppin or Quentin Grimes — is the young player who Knicks brass needs to prioritize this offseason. Through two seasons in New York, Quickley has established himself as one of the Knicks’ best young players. It’s no surprise to see his name floating around Donovan Mitchell trade hypotheticals.
As far as New York’s young core goes, RJ Barrett appears to be completely safe. The Knicks don’t want to trade him and the Jazz don’t want to pay him. After Barrett, the conversation is centering on Quickley, Toppin, and Grimes. The public consensus seems to be that Quickley is the most expendable of this trio because much like Mitchell and Jalen Brunson, he’s a combo guard.
In theory, Toppin and Grimes “fit” better with New York’s potential backcourt. That’s undeniable, but that doesn’t mean IQ should be the odd man out. The numbers say that Quickley is one of the most impactful players in the NBA. He exudes confidence no matter the situation. And — perhaps most importantly — he might be New York’s best chance at acquiring another star in the future.
High IQ Plays.
A quick look at his counting stats and shooting percentage paints a picture of inefficieny. He shoots under 40% from the floor and his three-point percentage dipped by four points from year one to year two.
But his on/off numbers tell a much different story. Instead of inefficient, he’s impactful. According to Cleaning The Glass, the Knicks were +12.2 points better per 100 possessions with Quickley on the floor. That equates to 96th percentile among all NBA players.
Even when he struggles with his shot (as seen in those raw shooting percentages), IQ finds a way to impact the game. He strains defenses with his willingness to shoot deep threes and although tough to quantify, he’s proven to be a plus defender.
His biggest wart is his unwillingness to attack the rim, but having three downhill threats on the roster will mitigate that weakness. Out of all NBA players who played in at least 50 games, Mitchell (15.2), Brunson (13.6), and Barrett (12.8) all ranked in the top 20 in drives per game.
And for what it’s worth, one of the typical drawbacks of guys who don’t attack the rim is a low free throw rate. Quickley is savvy enough to still draw calls and convert his attempts at a high rate (88.5% career FT%).
Putting the numbers aside for a second, it’s clear that Quickley believes he belongs with the big boys. He can be confident to a fault, but instilling confidence in a timid player is much more difficult than reining in someone who’s fearless. IQ is already an impact player and he’s far from his full potential.
Forget About “Fit” With Brunson and Mitchell.
It’s not that “fit” doesn’t matter when assembling a team, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor for the Knicks right now. No, Tom Thibodeau probably won’t play a Brunson-Mitchell-Quickley trio for extended minutes, but that’s not a problem.
Even the most delusional of Knicks fans would admit that Mitchell isn’t the final piece to a championship puzzle. There needs to be one more move coming down the pike. Having enough ammo to pull off that next deal is going to be key.
Prioritizing short-term fit over long-term upside is short-sighted. This isn’t a knock on Toppin or Grimes, but Quickley has the highest upside of this group. I’d be willing to bet on Quickley improving his overall efficiency over Toppin’s three-point shooting or Grimes’ potential as a shot creator.
Even if he’s locked into a second-unit role for the foreseeable future, he can be one of New York’s most important and impactful players. That’s all he’s done for two seasons already.
In an orange-and-blue-colored utopia, the Knicks would land Mitchell without having to give up any of their young players. But we live in reality. It’s going to take at least one, maybe two of these guys to reach the finish line of this deal.
“Fit” be damned. Keeping Quickley should be the priority.