Immanuel Quickley Scouting Report

Immanuel Quickley
Immanuel Quickley, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, made 43 percent of his 3-point shots this season and ranked the 99th percentile for points per possession when shooting off the dribble. (Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics)

This time last year, Immanuel Quickley would not have registered as a blip on the radar of the NBA Draft experts. A lot can change in 12 months. The off-ball sharpshooter transformed himself from a sparingly used reserve guard as a freshman into the SEC Player of the Year and third-team All-American in just a year. 

In the 2018-19′ season, UK, rarely hurting for NBA talent, possessed two, first-round draft picks on the wing: Tyler Hero and Keldon Johnson. This season, new opportunity, mixed with inspiring individual improvement, resulted in Quickley blooming into a legitimate NBA prospect. In April, the Maryland native and former McDonald’s All-American has made his future intentions clear: he was moving on from Lexington by declaring for the draft while signing with an agent

Raw box statistics can illuminate the massive jump in production between Quickley’s freshman and sophomore campaigns. 

Freshman StatsSophomore Stats
Points per game5.216.1
Rebounds per game1.84.2
Assists per game1.21.9
Field-goal %37.241.7
3-point %34.542.8
Free-throw %82.892.3

These are impressive statistics, particularly considering the raw shooting splits. Looking at those splits and factoring how much Quickley’s role and volume increased this year, gives reason for optimism on his upward trend as a prospect. Yet, the raw box numbers do not tell the entire story, as advanced metrics within context and visual takeaways from full game tape provide a clearer picture. 

Position: SGTeam/Class:Kentucky (So.)
Birthday: 6/17/99Nationality:United States
Height: 6-3Weight:188
Wingspan:6-10Vertical:32’’ standing, 37’’ max
Shot Hand:RightStats:Click here

To state the obvious, Quickley is an elite sharpshooter. He possesses a gorgeous stroke and has a fundamental understanding of how to utilize off-ball down-screens to spring himself open from defenders and uncork the deadly long-range jumpers on the catch or off the dribble. 

Quickley creates pressure for contracting defenses because he’s consistently relocating and hunting for space. Because he needs little room or time to get his shot off, his presence makes it nearly impossible for defenders to fulfill their team defensive principles and dissuade/contest Quickley’s shooting at the same time. If you were to describe his problematic effect on half-court defenses, the buzzword “scoring gravity” comes to mind. 

His offensive game will pair neatly with any playmaking guard or forward on an NBA team in need of spacing to flourish. To summarize: Quickley’s offensive repertoire is quite employable alongside NBA stars in today’s game.  

Here is the real kicker: Quickley is a more solid defensive guard and more athletic than the consensus realizes. The film and advanced numbers both support this declaration. He is not just a gadget, situational shooter but retains real projectable value as an on-ball and team defender in the NBA. His basketball IQ, defensive instincts, solid lateral quickness, and whopping 6-foot-10 wingspan enabled him to become one of the premier defensive wings in the SEC. 

For NBA teams, identifying real shot-makers to complement superstars—without sacrificing and creating liabilities on the other side of the floor—is a tall order. When you do find one, they become valuable assets. In my opinion, that is precisely the archetype that Immanuel Quickley embodies. 

Strengths

  • An efficient offensive player on high volume; averaged 1.07 points per possession (PPP) for overall offense (94th percentile), with an adjusted field-goal percentage (aFG%) of 51.2. 
  • Elite overall 3-point shooter on high volume (3-pt% of 42.8, 1.20 PPP – 89th percentile, and aFG% of 60)
  • Elite off-the-dribble jump shooter on small sample size (1.37 PPP – 99th percentile, aFG% of 68) 
  • Good catch-and-shoot offensive player (1.04 PPP – 62nd percentile, aFG% of 57) 
  • Elite free-throw shooter on high volume (92%)
  • Efficient overall defensive player (allowed 0.70 PPP – 85th percentile, opponents aFG% of 36) 
  • Efficient PNR defender (allowed 0.58 PPP – 80th percentile, opponents aFG% of 28)
  • Above-average athlete in terms of speed, quickness, and vertical

This is not a complete puff piece. I am certainly more bullish on Immanuel Quickley than the consensus, and I have laid out that case above with observations from film and raw box statistical improvement. But being closed-minded and not countering your position is irresponsible and as dangerous as anything within the realm of player evaluation. So, if Quickley fails in the NBA, how and why could that happen? 

For starters, although widely considered a point guard prior to his arrival in Lexington, Quickley has not shown the ability to consistently make plays for his teammates. He settled nicely into his role within the Kentucky offense, but you would not expect him to walk into the NBA and immediately execute at a high level as a pick-and-roll handler, or even as a second-side offensive initiator. Also, Quickley does not finish effectively at or around the rim yet, and there are legitimate concerns around his capacity to ever become a three-level scorer in the NBA. 

Although an effective defender for his size, due to that physical profile, there is probably a limit to Quickley’s defensive ceiling. At 6-foot-3, he likely cannot develop the tools to reliably guard the massive premier wing scorers of this era. Furthermore, if his shot-making, for any reason, dipped even moderately below his current lethal rates, these flaws could become exacerbated and render him as an ineffective cog in the NBA machine.

Weaknesses

  • Inefficient scorer around the basket (0.9 PPP – 21st percentile, aFG% of 42) 
  • Inefficient playmaker for teammates (56 assists – 1.87 per game to 48 turnovers for A/T ratio of 1.17) 
  • Though difficult to beat off the dribble, produces few impact plays on defense (1.3 steals and blocks combined per 40 minutes)
  • Undersized for a wing

There you have it; my detailed case for why the hivemind of the NBA draft has severely undervalued Immanuel Quickley’s two-way skill set, paired with a summary of if I am wrong, why I might be wrong so that you can draw your own conclusions. 

I anticipate that Quickley will be ranked on my final big board somewhere in the range of 12-25 and is a sure-fire 1st round talent. 

Branscome’s Big Board will be posted at Hoops Prospects and http://whichcarolina.podomatic.net/ in the coming weeks. 

Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements:  Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com.  Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. The photo was courtesy of Kentucky Athletics.  

About Lee Branscome 5 Articles
Lee is a former NCAA D2 basketball student-athlete at Chowan University. Following graduation, he was hired as an assistant coach for the program. In four years, he helped rebuild the program, winning 19 games in his final season. Lee now covers sports, co-hosting a sports-centric podcast called "Which Carolina," on Podomatic.net, and he can be followed @WhichCarolina on Twitter.

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