The Key to a Bulked-Up Defense is Revealed by a Young Knicks Guard
If there is a difference between Immanuel Quickley’s performance for the Knicks a year ago and this NBA season, it starts with his build.
Quickley will never be Charles Atlas, but he isn’t as skinny as he was last year after working to bulk up his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame over the summer.
And that, according to the 22-year-old Quickley, has been crucial in gaining coach Tom Thibodeau’s trust.
“I couldn’t stay on the floor last year because I couldn’t guard—especially playing with Derrick (Rose), sometimes I have to guard 2s–being a little bit stronger helps me guard a lot bigger players,” Quickley said.
You have to be able to guard for coach Thibs just to stay on the floor.
That was one of the things I tried to focus on.
Even though you get stronger as you get older, that was one of the things I tried to focus on.”
Quickley was outstanding on offense in the Knicks’ impressive, grind-it-out win over the Pacers, hitting all four 3-pointers he attempted, including two in a crucial fourth-quarter stretch, but his defense was also outstanding.
He played a key role in limiting Indiana’s guards, Malcolm Brogdon, Carmelo Anthony, TJ McConnell, and Jeremy Lamb, to just 14-for-34 (34.9 percent) shooting.
The Pacers hit 37.2 percent of their shots as a team.
On both ends, it was the bench unit, which included Quickley, that led the way.
Quickley is a ‘Very Underrated Defender,’ according to Thibs.
Quickley undoubtedly drew his coach’s attention.
“He’s a defender who gets a lot of respect, but he’s underappreciated.”
Thibodeau said, “He’s a fierce competitor, which I think helps him.”
“With his gambles, we have to reel him in a little bit, but he’s underrated.”
The figures back this up.
Quickley is one of the Knicks’ most effective defenders, according to Basketball-Reference.com, with opponents scoring 99.8 points per 100 possessions when he is on the floor and 115.3 when he is off.
This disparity (15.5 points per 100 possessions) is the most significant in the league.
Rose (23.5) is ranked second among Knicks regulars.
The Knicks’ two starting guards have had poor defensive onoff numbers.
Teams score 20.8 points per 100 possessions more when Kemba Walker is on the floor than when he is not.
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