April 22nd, 2024

Immanuel Quickley learning to be aggressive in new role as Raptors point guard

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on February 25, 2024.

The most important lesson Immanuel Quickley has learned in his 22 games with the Toronto Raptors is to be aggressive.

Quickley was acquired by the Raptors in a trade at the end of 2023 and was immediately slotted into the team’s starting lineup as its point guard. Since then, head coach Darko Rajakovic has drilled into Quickley that the key to his new role is to push the pace of play as his minutes have gone up from 24 per game with the New York Knicks to 32.3 with Toronto.

“I feel like when I’m more aggressive, I can find my teammates a little bit easier,” said Quickley, after registering 24 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 121-93 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. “There’s a lot more help when I’m more aggressive and in the scoring mindset.

“I’m just trying to take what the defence gives me but try to be aggressive first and look for my shot.”

Quickley was traded to Toronto on Dec. 30 from the New York Knicks with RJ Barrett, of Mississauga, Ont., and a 2024 second-round pick for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn.

Adding eight minutes per game to Quickley’s workload, largely against the opposing team’s best defenders, has had inconsistent results. He averaged 15 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals and one turnover over 30 games as a shooting guard for New York, but is averaging 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.3 turnovers as a point guard for the Raptors.

“In New York I was probably the fourth guy on the scout report,” said Quickley, noting that with the Knicks he was playing a lot more off the ball. “Now I’m probably like one or two or three on any given night, so that’s probably different in that way.”

Quickley went to Miami during the all-star break to work on his game, a decision that seems to have paid off over Toronto’s past two games. After a strong performance in the win against Brooklyn, he earned 24 points on a career-high six three-pointers with seven rebounds and five assists in a critical 123-121 victory in Atlanta on Friday

“Still learning when to be ultra-aggressive and when to get my teammates involved,” said Quickley after practice last week. “The balance of it, how to find guys where they want the ball and things like that, flow of the game, rhythm of the game, all while still playing defence at a high level, it’s a lot.

“But I’m having fun learning all of it because this is what I wanted. I wanted to be challenged and this is what I wanted.”

The challenge of being aggressive has come directly from Rajakovic, who expects Quickley to create opportunities for his teammates by attacking the basket and drawing defenders before finding an open teammate for an easy bucket.

“I like his aggressiveness, our team likes his aggressiveness, his teammates like his aggressiveness,” said Rajakovic. “It’s going to be a work in progress, like how quickly he needs to get off the ball in some of those situations.

“Especially in pick and rolls, if he goes too deep in the paint, some of those he can probably find outlets earlier.”

Quickley will get another high-level test Monday when the Raptors visit the Indiana Pacers and former Toronto all-star Pascal Siakam.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2024.

Follow @jchidleyhill on X.

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