It was a surprise to almost everyone when Immanuel Quickley was taken off the draft board in the first round–and now we know how it all went down.
On Tuesday morning, a report published by Yaron Weitzman of the New York Post detailed that night in the war room for the New York Knicks front office during the 2020 NBA Draft. In the article, Weitzman breaks down exactly what happened on that non-traditional night in November, particularly how the front office wound up taking Quickley with the 25th overall pick.
It was time for the draft’s 23rd pick. The Knicks were on the clock.
“We need Quickley, get Quickley,” William Wesley repeated, over and over and over and over.
— Yaron Weitzman (@YaronWeitzman) March 9, 2021
A new member of the Knicks front office and a familiar name to those who follow Kentucky Basketball, William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, was the one who convinced the rest of the New York brass to take the skinny sophomore guard from Kentucky. Quickley wasn’t anywhere near the top of the Knicks big board as it came time for them to pick near the back end of the first round, but Wesley was insistent.
“We need Quickley, get Quickley,” William Wesley repeated, over and over and over and over. Wesley — the ubiquitous consultant/adviser/star-whisperer/power broker whose reputation has earned him the moniker “World Wide Wes” — had joined the Knicks as an executive vice president and senior adviser in June and had spent the months since pushing Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley at every turn. [New York Post]
It took a last-second trade deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the Knicks managed to swap picks with them, moving to No. 25 and subsequently taking Quickley, who has exploded on the scene as one of the best rookies in his class. In his first season as a pro, IQ is averaging 12.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game while shooting slightly over 38 percent from deep in nearly 19 minutes per game. He’s been closing games down the stretch for head coach Tom Thibodeau and is already known for his deadly floater in the lane.
The overarching theme of Weitzman’s article dives more into what the Knicks, specifically new president Leon Rose, have done to change the outside perception of what has been a losing franchise for most of the last two decades. Hitting big on Quickley late in the first round and drafting Obi Toppin at No. 8 were two big wins for the Knicks organization. They then unleashed the full potential of Julius Randle in his seventh NBA season as he made his first-ever All-Star appearance just the other night while Nerlens Noel has settled perfectly into the role of backup center. Snagging assistant coach Kenny Payne from John Calipari’s staff in Lexington has surely played a role in the Knicks’ new-founded success, as well.
Wesley apparently hasn’t been quiet about his affection for the Kentucky program, either. Weitzman reported that WWW advocated for drafting Nick Richards with the 27th pick and was also a huge fan of Tyrese Maxey. People around the situation also aren’t entirely sure if Wesley is talking about Kentucky or the Knicks whenever he refers to “we”. He believed in Quickley’s abilities the most, though, and it’s paid off in the early stages.
The Knicks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-18 record–nothing extraordinary, especially in the East, but a massive turnaround from years past. In the 2018-19 season, New York won 17 games all season long and only won 21 in 2019-20. Drafting Quickley isn’t the sole reason the Knicks are finally winning, but he sure is making it a lot easier.