As the new year began, a major deal was agreed upon on Saturday between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors. The two organizations are currently involved in a federal court dispute over an alleged case of proprietary information theft. The Knicks traded for OG Anunoby, who was wanted by many NBA teams, for Immanuel Quickley, R.J. Barrett, and the second-round selection of the Detroit Pistons in 2024, as well as for Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn.
Two teams embroiled in legal disputes have apparently never before reached a settlement in league history. This kind of event is warranted. The fact that all parties involved come out ahead makes this exchange stand out among the many intriguing aspects of it. While the Knicks receive their long-sought-after talent in Anunoby, the Raptors acquire their future point guard, send a prominent Canadian hooper packing, and acquire a pick that is highly expected to be the No. 31 overall selection in the 2024 NBA Draft in exchange for a player whose free agency status was uncertain.
Additionally, I will have an article covering the return of the Knicks. Now that we’ve covered the two players Toronto got (Quickley and Barrett), let’s dissect why one of them could end up being the deal-breaker.
Among these participants, Immanuel Quickley stands out as the most intriguing.
I still don’t agree with how this transaction has been portrayed as “The OG Anunoby Trade,” even if I can understand it from both teams’ perspectives. I believe Quickley should be the focal point of the deal if we are to center it on one player. In my opinion, “The Immanuel Quickley Trade” is a more fitting title. He stands to gain the most from the arrangement.
The 24-year-old point guard will have ample opportunity to prove himself in Toronto, where he has been prepared for a more advanced role for over a year. Since beginning their roster retooling around the 2021–22 Rookie of the Year, the Raptors have been in search of a long-term point guard option to complement Scottie Barnes. They have discovered the ideal match in Quickley. He complements Barnes’ game, has plenty of potential to develop his own scoring and playmaking abilities, and is around the same age as the other key Raptors.
Also, Quickley has shown that he can be effective in a starting role. In 21 games last season, Quickley started either as the starting point guard or as a backup for Jalen Brunson or the injured Barrett. The outcomes were outstanding. In 38 minutes a game, Quickley shot 46.9% from the field, 40.1% from beyond the arc, and 84.6% from the charity stripe over those 21 games. He averaged 22.6 points, 5.4 boards, and 5.1 assists per game. All of those figures were higher than his total output per minute. He has improved his performance per minute this season to a level where it is competitive with his starting averages. In 36 minutes played, he has averaged 22.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 45.4% from the field, 39.5% from beyond the arc, and 87.2% from the charity stripe.
Similar to how Brunson flourished in a more significant role for the Knicks after a supporting role with Luka Dončić in Dallas, Quickley is expected to have remarkable success in a more prominent role for Toronto. He’s a real three-point shooter; last season, he was one of just ten guards to shoot 65% from the field, 45% from midrange, and 36% from beyond the arc, all according to Cleaning the Glass. Out of the remaining nine players, six were all-stars; the remaining three, Isaiah Joe (a reserve for the Oklahoma City Thunder), Monté Morris (a point guard for the Washington Wizards in the past), and Derrick White (a possible All-Star for Boston in 2024), were significantly less used. Despite a decline in both efficiency and rim pressure this season, Quickley is still one of just fourteen guards shooting 57% from the field, 45% from 3-point range, and 37% from the field overall. In sum, Quickley has shown somewhat above-average efficiency on a substantial volume over the past two seasons, while being only 23 and 24 years old, respectively.
A key component of Quickley’s ability to create scoring opportunities is his variety in making shots. The way defenders play Quickley, especially while the ball is being screened, is dictated by his continual threat to pull up and shoot. There isn’t a foolproof plan to stop him, particularly if his opponents are lacking in troops. This is why Quickley has been named the league’s best pick-and-roll scorer for the past two years running.
You can see Quickley’s shotmaking variety in action in the following clips from a game he played in November against Phoenix. In 29 minutes, he scored 18 points.
He displays remarkable composure and patience while facing opponents who go over the screen; for example, he keeps Devin Booker’s defender connected to his hip as he waits for his screener’s defender to determine whether to assist the roller or remain attached to him. Quickley makes a midrange pull-up after bouncing off Booker to his right. This happens as soon as Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein dribbles his right foot to keep himself tied to Phoenix big man Drew Eubanks. If Quickley is able to step up as the Raptors’ starting point guard, the success or failure of this transaction will hinge on him. In the past two seasons, whenever the Knicks have requested that Quickley play more minutes, he has responded admirably and flourished. Even though Quickley finished second that season to then-Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon, I still thought his all-around effort was deserving of the distinction, so I went with him as my Sixth Man of the Year option.