With the NBA scaling down its All-Star weekend to a single day this year due to COVID-19, the traditional Rising Stars showcase involving the league’s top rookies and sophomores will not be part of the festivities.
That means Knicks point guard Immanuel Quickley and other impressive young players won’t get to participate ahead of the March 7 midseason event in Atlanta. The league announced last week the skills challenge and the 3-point shooting contest will take place before the All-Star Game that night, with the popular slam-dunk contest happening at halftime.
“If it was a [Rising Stars] game, it would be a joy to play in it,” Quickley said Sunday. “I don’t know if they [will] have it this year, but like I’ve said, we are focusing on what we can control, going out and trying to play hard each and every night and try to get the dubs [wins].
“You can’t even be in consideration for those individual awards if the team’s not really winning. So just focusing on controlling what you can control.”
Quickley and the Knicks were slated to get their first look Sunday night at Minnesota rookie shooting guard Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Quickley said he and Edwards were teammates at a top-prospects camp while they were still in high school. They also faced each other multiple times last year in the SEC, when the Knicks’ rookie was a sophomore at Kentucky and Edwards was a freshman at Georgia.
Edwards entered Sunday second among rookies in scoring at 14.3 points per game, just behind Charlotte point guard LaMelo Ball (14.4), with Quickley third at 12.4 ppg.
But Quickley, who is playing just 19.4 minutes per game in a reserve role, led the league in player efficiency rating (PER), a metric that measures a player’s per-minute productivity.
“It’s pretty cool seeing that hard work is paying off. As far as just my peers, I look at it a little bit,” Quickley said. “I saw the dunk Anthony Edwards had a couple nights ago [against Toronto]. That was pretty dope.
“But I try not to pay attention too much to it. I try to just worry about myself and my teammates and what the team can do as far as we’re the eighth seed in the [Eastern Conference], trying to make the playoffs for the first time in a really long time. So a lot going on in New York. We’re just trying to stay with it, each and every day, get better and just focusing on trying to control what we can control.”
Quickley, who has formed a versatile backcourt tandem off the bench with imported veteran Derrick Rose, was looking to bounce back Sunday from one of the worst shooting games of his rookie campaign. The 25th-overall pick in the draft missed 11 of 12 field-goal attempts, including all four from 3-point range, in Wednesday’s loss in Orlando.
The Knicks had three days off between games due to Saturday’s scheduled home game against San Antonio being postponed because of several positive COVID tests by the Spurs.
“For me, I really didn’t take any days off. I’ve been in the gym everyday so besides just maybe a little bit extra time the day we traveled back, that’s pretty much it,” the 22-year-old Quickley said. “But we’ve been staying in the gym, as a team we’ve been staying hungry. We want this game [against Minnesota] a lot after not playing well in Orlando, so we’re looking forward to this game and try to get back on track.”