No one thought it then, but the New York Knicks got a steal when they drafted reigning SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley with their first-round pick. The Knicks took Quickley, who was mostly projected as a second-round pick, at No. 25.
The Knicks haven’t looked back, as Quickley has quickly become one of the best rookies in the NBA. New York, with a surging Julius Randle, is quietly going to be the playoff-caliber team for the first time in almost a decade.
That said, a sharpshooter, Quickley has stayed motivated during his rookie season by a screenshotted photo that he keeps from when CBS Sports gave the Knicks a D+ grade for drafting the former Wildcat.
“He’s the reigning SEC player of the year and shot 42 percent from 3-point range, but this is nearly 30 spots higher than I expected. His upside just does not match this place in the draft, but he could be a good shooter if nothing else. Grade: D+.” CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote following the draft.
Let’s just say Quickley isn’t going to be forgetting about that anytime soon.
“I have that screenshotted. I have a camera roll album of all stuff that motivates me and that’s one of them. Definitely screenshotted and saved on my phone,” Quickley told the Big Apple Buckets Podcast.
Currently fifth in the rookie class in points per game, Quickley is averaging 11.8 per game. On top of that, he’s continued to do what he does best — shoot. Quickley is averaging 1.6 threes per game. His 46 rank fifth in the class as well.
Quickley showed this ability with the Kentucky Wildcats, but an undersized two, many didn’t think his game would translate well to the bigger, strong NBA. So far, he’s delivered, and he’s been a huge contributor to the Knicks second unit.
Top five in Rookie of the Year voting, Quickley has been electric this season and should continue to prove his doubters wrong.