The depth of the Knicks roster was illustrated in the double-overtime season-opening win versus Boston last Wednesday.
The Knicks, who hosted a rematch against Orlando on Sunday, are stacked at all five positions. Though combo guard Immanuel Quickley is considered a mainstay on the second unit, his services weren’t needed much to repel the Celtics.
In a 58-minute contest, Quickley was on the floor for just 8:25 — none in the second half or the two overtime sessions.
One of the stronger attributes of Thibodeau’s coaching is rolling with the hot hand. Quickley was 1-for-4 in the first half, and missed all three of his 3-pointers.
“I didn’t play as good in the first half,” Quickley said. “It’s nothing you can really do in the first half but stay ready.”
None of the assistant coaches debriefed Quickley after the Boston game on his benching, so he repeated what he did a lot last season during the pandemic season.
Quickley claims he drove back to Westchester and hit the Tarrytown campus to shoot. Last season, Quickley could often be seen taking shots after the game on the Garden court.
“Right after that Celtics game I went straight to the gym,” Quickley said. “I expect to stay ready throughout the season whether my name is called, whether it’s not called. That’s something I learned from a lot of players in this league is always stay ready, always wait for your opportunity and when you get your opportunity go and play hard and have fun. I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned in this league.”
In Orlando on Friday, Quickley was ready. He drained four 3-pointers on eight attempts, notching 16 points in 20 minutes. He looked to be having the time of his life during the Knicks’ rout.
“It could be anybody,’’ Quickley said after citing depth as the team’s biggest strength. “That’s how our team is and we’ve bought in. When somebody has success everybody has success.”
The Knicks set the franchise record for most 3-point field goals with 24 — without one player getting more than four. Quickley thinks there’s enough 3-point snipers — and ball movers to create good looks — to make them a threat to break the record they just set.
The Knicks want Quickley to be more than just a 3-point shooter and hope he can do more ballhandling. He was the starting point guard in the summer league. Most scouts felt his NBA career would come off the ball.
“I tried to get a lot stronger in the offseason,” Quickley said. “I got done lifting [after the Orlando game]. Just trying to improve every facet of my game. Just watching film, trying to get better whether I’m off the ball, on the ball, just trying to make the right reads and playing multiple positions. Defense. That’ll always get you on the floor with coach Thibs, so I’m trying to improve on that as well.’’
Quickley’s minutes could shrink anyway if Thiibodeau raises new shooting guard Evan Fournier’s minutes to the 35 range. Plus Alec Burks’ minutes can rise. The Knicks essentially go with three guards on their second unit in Derrick Rose at point guard with Quickley and Burks.
Still, the likelihood of new point guard Kemba Walker missing games should keep the former Kentucky guard relevant.
Quickley averaged 19.4 minutes last season when Reggie Bullock was the starting shooting guard. Quickley also may eventually fight for minutes with new first-round pick, shooting guard Quentin Grimes, who also was drafted with the No. 25 pick.
Grimes was inserted for the last play of the first half in the season opener for defensive purposes. And then he played 4:34 in the Orlando game.
Ironically, as 2020 lottery pick Obi Toppin’s minutes will rise, Quickley’s could fall.