Immanuel Quickley made the most of Christmas – to the extreme.
Quickley played in the Knicks’ Christmas Day matinee win against Atlanta, had a Christmas dinner with Obi Toppin’s family, and then finished vacationing in Tarrytown.
Quickley’s work ethic has impressed the Knicks’ coaching staff, but not even Tom Thibodeau was at their headquarters in the early hours of Christmas Eve.
“I think that was 1 a.m. after Christmas dinner, I was going to the gym,” Quickley said. “I think that’s the craziest thing. I think I was watching Steph [Curry on Christmas], and he went mad. I thought, ‘I have to go to the gym. I have to go to the gym after seeing this. Yes, I think that was the craziest thing.”
The offseason is ahead of the game for the Knicks just as Quickley got going – he finished the season with two triple-doubles in his last three games.
After shaking off a jinxed campaign earlier in the season, Quickley finished 39.4 percent from 3-point range in his last 29 games. He showed more playing ability than ever before – even in Kentucky.
Knicks Brass must now be wondering if Quickley, the 25th pick in the 2020 draft, is ready to make a big move and compete for the starting point warden job in training camp. Quickley averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 assists, but due to his poor start, he only ended up on 39.2 percent overall (34.6 out of 3).
The Knicks have their eye on free agent point guard Jalen Brunson, but if the Mavericks have strong playoffs, owner Mark Cuban and coach Jason Kidd may not let him go.
“The Mavericks still love Jalen,” said an NBA source.
Quickley danced around the possibility of returning as a starting point guard next season after playing most of his rookie year off the ball.
He only started twice this season — including the Finals against Toronto, when he became the third Knick to hit a 30-point triple-double after Walt Frazier and Julius Randle with his 34 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
“I only control what I can control, man, and that’s hard work that gets better every day,” Quickley said Sunday after the season finale. “When that starts, that comes off the bench, it is what it is.”
Quickley wore dark shades during his post-game interview – the same shades he put on after his original triple-double on April 3 in Orlando. Not afraid of the limelight, he makes theatrical gestures after hitting a big 3-point shot – even trotting last season’s “swim move” in the season finale.
However, sources say his camp wasn’t thrilled with his staggering preseason minute allocation.
Due to his fitness rat personality, Thibodeau expects Quickley, who turns 23 on June 17, to come back with more guns.
He started the season slowly – in Thibodeau’s estimation – as he adjusted to new foul rules, with umpires ignoring contact that came from non-basketball moves.
Quickley said developing into a better one-on-one defender is a key off-season goal.
“You want to work on everything,” Quickley said. “I think I’ll get stronger as you get older, keep lifting, you’ll get stronger. middle class [shooting] is a. Playmaking to keep seeing the ground better and creating for my teammates and then I want to keep adding the shooting range to keep shooting further and further.
Quickley wants to take long 3s like Curry, who also entered the league with questions about whether he really was a point guard.
The Knicks’ biggest mistake this season was not having a reliable starting point guard after Kemba Walker left the team in February and Derrick Rose underwent season-ending ankle surgery in December.
“We were hoping to make the playoffs,” Quickley said. “We could have done a lot better. Still proud of the boys. We still come in every day and everyone respects each other. All you can ask for is to come to work and be around people you enjoy coming to work with. It’s a season where we wanted to make the playoffs, but next year we’ll come back better.”