In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, in this space, we glance at University of Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley.
With the NBA gearing up to restart the 2019-20 season in Orlando, much of the focus has been on the day to day status of the league at large and less about the impending draft which is inching closer by the day. However, for the eight teams not heading to the bubble, the next few months will be spent analyzing every inch of the incoming NBA Draft class, with a sprinkling of free agent analysis also in the mix. NBA general managers are at a disadvantage this year with the college season being cut short so, in some ways, prospects like Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley, who had solid college data coming into this season, are going to be well sought after.
Quickley declared for the 2020 NBA Draft back on April 13, forgoing his final two years of collegiate eligibility for a chance at sticking with an NBA squad.
The SEC Player of the Year and All-SEC first team selection will be a hot commodity in the draft as he has built a good name for himself since being pegged as a top prospect coming out of high school. Quickley at one point in his recruitment process was ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the country by Rivals, No. 19 by 247 Sports and No. 25 by ESPN’s rankings.
As a freshman in Lexington, Quickley showed early signs that he would be a force in the SEC. However, with other prospects already ahead of him in the starting lineup, Quickley did not always see starter-level minutes. As a freshman, he only averaged 18.5 minutes per game, but his numbers in that small sample size were impressive. His shooting percentages were very promising in particular, as he shot 41 percent on two pointers and over 34 percent on three pointers.
Although it was a season shortened thanks to COVID-19, Quickley took a large step forward as a starter in 2019-20. This year, Quickley’s shooting volume predictably jumped from four attempts as a freshman to 11 attempts per game as his floor time grew. The more impressive thing is that, as his volume increased, his percentages also increased. Especially so in the three-point department, where his percentage jumped to nearly 43 percent on about five attempts per game.
Quickley only had two games this season in which he did not convert a three-pointer and several games in which he hit more than three shots from deep. He even had one game early in the season against Texas A&M where he went 8-of-12 from downtown in very impressive fashion.
Quickley also improved on his free throw shooting from an already solid 83 percent to over 92 percent. This is especially promising because of his more than acceptable free throw rate for a guard. This season, Quickley averaged over five shots per game at the line.
In short, Quickley’s central appeal to professional teams will be his shooting prowess. Though he is somewhat limited in terms of size at 6’3, Quickley is one of the better pure shooters in the class and, if a team is evaluating him, it is the first thing to notice and file away.
While his shooting profile is a great calling card for the modern NBA playing style, Quickley still has some growing to do in many departments where he is a bit raw. Quickley shows some promise as an athlete on the defensive end, but he can get caught off guard sometimes. His stats don’t do him any favors (1.6 percent steal rate, 0.5 percent block rate), but Quickley does have a solid frame with decent hands that could find their way into more passing lanes with the right instruction and increase in aggression.
Point blank, a team is going to draft Quickley based heavily on his shooting prowess and they will hope that the former Kentucky guard will grow in other areas to eventually provide a well-rounded game. He is an older sophomore prospect at 21 and, without substantial gains elsewhere, his game is not well rounded enough to likely be a starter at the next level.
From the standpoint of the Atlanta Hawks, Quickley is widely projected to come off the board before the No. 52 pick, but significantly after Atlanta’s lottery pick. Based on mock drafts, it is even possible that a team near the end of the first round — like the Lakers or Celtics — could nab Quickley, projecting him in a specialist role, before he even hits the second round. Shooting is a top need in the NBA right now, so Quickley definitely has the right specialty to succeed.
It will simply be interesting to see if he can play enough defense and/or create enough for others to stick around somewhere.