Before the worst shooting performance of his sophomore season in a gutsy 73-66 victory in the always-hostile Bud Walton Arena against a feisty Arkansas bunch with coach John Calipari getting ejected in the second half, Immanuel Quickley had been a human flamethrower after the turn of the new calendar year.
In the 11 games before 2020 began, Quickley was shooting just 31.1 percent from 3-point range on 4.1 attempts per contest. Since 2020 started, Quickley has made 15 of his 26 attempts from deep (57.7 percent!) and that includes a 1-for-5 showing this past weekend where he missed 11 of his 14 total shot attempts on the evening.
Bad shooting nights happen, but Quickley still found a way to contribute with 10 rebounds (four on the offensive end alone) and continued his stellar run of play that has seen the Cats win five of their six games.
Quickley, despite his contributions offensively and scoring 13+ points in every game since the Ohio State loss on Dec. 21, almost still feels like an underrated player in the Kentucky rotation.
Nick Richards has been the anchor and the engine at the same time this season. Ashton Hagans has been the spark plug on both ends of the floor as the primary ball-handler. Even freshman forward Keion Brooks Jr. has found himself in a bit of a spotlight, not because of his former coach’s, uh, questionable analysis of Calipari and his coaches, but because of his grittiness and willingness to do the dirty work.
Meanwhile, Quickley’s legitimately been the best non-Richards option for the Cats offensively, which ... doesn’t that sound kinda familiar, at least with one of Calipari’s best teams?
Let’s take a fun trip down memory lane back to the 2011-12 season. Remember some guy named Doron Lamb who came back for a sophomore season to join the likes of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a title-winning campaign?
In his two seasons with the Cats, Lamb shot a blistering 47.5 percent from deep on 3.9 attempts per game in 78 total games. Quickley’s numbers aren’t exactly that efficient just yet — 37.3 percent on three attempts in 53 games — but not only have his attempts risen (2.4 to 4.4 3PA per game), his percentage has also risen from 34.5 percent to 40.8 percent this season.
Lamb was about as automatic as any shooter Calipari’s ever coached in Lexington, but Quickley is slowly becoming the next in a long line of good shooters in a Kentucky uniform.
What were some of Lamb’s best qualities? Well, for starters, it felt like he never missed from the corners.
Lamb was dangerous in transition with Kentucky on the break, whether it was running the corners or trailing the play to set his feet and can a look from long range. Quickley’s shown that ability at times, too.
Lamb was a sniper from beyond the arc, but would use transition possessions to attack the basket when the opportunity presented itself. Out of Quickley’s 9.5 total shot attempts per game, 5.1 of them come inside the arc and with his lengthy frame as a wing, he’s more than capable of scoring twos than just trying to stay hot from 3.
On top of their similar roles in the Kentucky offense, their sophomore year statistics are more similar than you think to each other.
Take a look:
- Doron Lamb during the 2011-12 season (40 games): 4.4/9.2 FGA per game (369 total shots, 47.4 percent), 2.5/5.2 2PA per game (206 total attempts, 46.6 percent), 1.9/4.1 3PA per game (163 total attempts, 46.6 percent), 3.1/3.7 FTA per game (149 total attempts, 82.6 percent).
- Immanuel Quickley so far this season (16 games): 4.0/9.5 FGA per game (152 total shots, 42.1 percent), 2.2/5.1 2PA per game (81 total attempts, 43.2 percent), 1.8/4.4 3PA per game (71 total attempts), 3.9/4.2 FTA per game (67 total attempts, 92.5 percent).
Quickley’s a bigger player than Lamb (and you know, didn’t play with Anthony freakin’ Davis), so the rest of his box score averages outweigh Lamb’s, but another almost-hilarious statistic to go along with their averages above: each player averaged or is averaging 13.7 points per game, while they both took/are taking the second-most shots on the team.
Lamb’s two-year odyssey in college ended with Kentucky winning their eighth national title. Quickley and the current bunch of Cats have a long, long way to go to reach that type of level, but after taking a backseat to the likes of Hagans, Tyler Herro and Jemarl Baker Jr. (later in the season), the Maryland native has found his role on this team and it’s a crucial one.