As the Garden opened its doors to fans for the first time this season Tuesday, a handful of patrons donned spanking-new Immanuel Quickley Knicks jerseys.
In the Knicks’ “second home opener,” however, the electric rookie combo guard was a disappointment.
Quickley looked hesitant against the Warriors, and he finished 1-of-5 from the field for three points, one turnover and one assist.
Sensing Quickley didn’t have it, coach Tom Thibodeau held the rookie to just 13 minutes in the loss.
Thursday’s game versus the visiting Kings marks the season’s 33rd game, getting to the point of a complete college schedule. That mark is often where the proverbial rookie wall hits. And Quickley has already discussed the wall with his veteran teammates.
“I was talking with Alec Burks about it,’’ Quickley said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “We got like three college seasons in one essentially in a whole NBA. It’s kind of crazy. It feels like just yesterday we were at training camp, but now we’re so far along but have so much more to go. My body feels good though. It’s holding up good. Just taking all the tips the vets are giving, taking care of my body.’’
Quickley’s scouting report is well defined by now. The Kentucky product is quick to shoot a deep 3, he relishes his trademark floater and is overeager attempting to draw contact on dribble-drive penetrations because he’s a dynamite free-throw shooter (92.9 percent).
Quickley, 21, has been revelation, but he also has been streaky. In his past three games, he shot 3-for-22 — 2-for-10 from 3-point range.
“Teams are starting to scout me,’’ said Quickley, whose shooting has dipped to 38.4 percent. “Coach Thibs told me teams are starting to scout me, so I got to continue to extend my game and get better, continue to watch film, find ways to help my team — not only offensively, but defensively. But obviously teams are taking a little bit of notice.’’
Selected 25th in the Nov. 18 draft, Quickley was projected as a mid-second-round pick, with concerns about his ability to play point guard at the next level. At Kentucky, he played mostly off the ball with Tyrese Maxey.
According to scouts, Quickley is limited as a passer, but makes up for it with fearlessness and moxie. Now Quickley’s rookie season may be at the crossroads.
“I don’t want him hesitating, that’s for sure,’’ Thibodeau said. “I don’t want him overthinking things. He’s a terrific shooter. I think he’ll get better and better at it. In many cases he’s the first option and he has to be ready to shoot. So at times he’s got to think about getting other people involved. I have a lot of confidence in him.’’
The second half of the pandemic schedule was announced Wednesday, with the Knicks starting March 11 in Milwaukee, after the All-Star break. The two highlight Garden games are LeBron James’ Lakers visiting April 12 and Pelicans’ Zion Williamson making his pro Garden debut April 18.
The Knicks are now allowing 2,000 fans per game under New York state guidelines. According to a source, the Knicks have been talking to the governor’s office. There’s internal hope of expanding that number before the regular-season finale on May 16.
Starting PG Elfrid Payton is listed as doubtful for Sacramento with a hamstring strain, leading to the possibility of Derrick Rose making his first Knicks start since the 2016-17 season.