It was announced Saturday afternoon that the Toronto Raptors are trading O.G. Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa to the New York Knicks in exchange for Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and a 2024 second round draft pick.
This comes with the knowledge that Anunoby’s contract is set to expire in the 2024 offseason as he is expected to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent. It is widely believed around the NBA that he will be searching for a max deal.
Full ESPN story on the Knicks acquiring O.G. Anunoby in a trade with the Raptors https://t.co/HscXd4QslA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 30, 2023
While we are sad to see a beloved Toronto player leave, this move seemed necessary. If Toronto wants to pursue Pascal Siakam for extension, they likely could not afford both players — and that is if both wanted to stay at all.
So now we enter a new era of Raptors Basketball. RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley are exciting prospects for this team. Quickley brings a much needed presence as a point guard, while Barrett’s immediate hometown hero status may boost the youngster to play some exciting basketball.
We reached out to our friends in New York to get some insider knowledge of what Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett’s immediate impact on the Toronto Raptors will be.
Candace Pedraza of The Knicks Wall and Russell Richardson from SBNation’s New York Knicks’ hub Posting and Toasting answered some questions for us about how these players will fit into the Raptors’ system:
Q: What did Immanuel Quickley bring to the Knicks both offensively and defensively?
Candace Pedraza: Offensively, Quickley had some of the biggest shooting gravity of anyone on the Knicks. His three point shot is no fluke, and his floater makes it so that his issues with finishing directly at the rim are moot.
Defensively, he makes up for his short stature with a lot of energy defensively and the ability to stay on his feet in man coverage. He established himself last season as one of the team’s best on-ball defenders outside of Quentin Grimes, which I think is one of the biggest things the Raptors will be happy to see aside from his ability to play with Scottie Barnes in the pick and roll in a way that would make a grown person cry.
Outside of shooting, I think that role for Quickley was what made him so valuable - he was adept at involving RJ Barrett and Julius Randle in the offense in a way that made it hard for teams to defend. Overall, despite Barrett’s upside, Quickley is the biggest loss that New York is facing in this trade.
Russell Richardson: Quickley’s offensive skills were most evident in the recent game against the Thunder. OKC plays fast, and the Knicks starters looked like they were wearing cement sneakers. When IQ checked in, the pace of the Knicks offense immediately picked up. He has an endless reserve of energy.
His three-point shooting has been a real weapon of late. Furthermore, his shot quality has improved this season, with him taking much fewer ill-advised or heat-check chucks. He should be a starter, but it would never happen in New York. He was essential to our bench unit.
I hope that will happen for him in Toronto. He’s just as much of a film-rat as he is a gym-rat. He studies the game and has learned how to read offenses. (Fred Katz has written in depth about this in the past for The Athletic.)
He is a little small for some assignments, but on most wings, he’s a hart gnat to shake and often disrupts plays. In truth, I might miss that part of his game the most.
Q: As a point guard, what makes Immanuel Quickley unique?
CP: Quickley is awesome as a pick and roll operator as I mentioned earlier, and I think that’s his biggest strength as a point guard. While he’s small, he’s able to force defenders out and use that leverage to the benefit of bigger shooters or just bigs in general.
I think that this move will specifically benefit Barnes and Siakam who will see a lot more to work with on the floor after generating looks of Quickley’s switching and baiting.
Additionally, he’s a pretty solid passer, but it’s a skill that he will most likely have to work on in what I assume to be starters minutes with Toronto. Otherwise, I would definitely say his pick and roll ball handling is his biggest perk as a guard, and he’s going to selflessly ensure that everyone else on the Raptors reaps those benefits.
Quickley numbers⬇️— Amit Mann (@Amit_Mann) December 30, 2023
As a starter last szn (21 games): 22.6pts 5.1ast 5.4reb
15pts 2.6reb 2.5ast 39.5 3p%
40.6 on pullup 3's (2.3 att)
40.4 on C&S 3's (3 att)
51% from short midrange
57% at rim
The Barnes-Quickley PnR covers many key scoring levels & skill requirements
RR: I’ve always seen him as a two-guard (since we already have one in Jalen Brunson), but he can certainly run the point.
His court vision has improved with every season. He has been stymied in Thibodeau’s stale, read-react / drive-and-kick offensive scheme.
He has a high basketball IQ (pun unintended) and can find the seams for a nice pass or a drive to the rim. I’d love to see what he can do with a more creative coach.
Q: The Raptors are lacking shooting ability, is Quickley an answer to this?
CP: 100%. Not only is he a great three point shooter, but his floater is automatic. He isn’t the best at finishing at the rim yet, and I think that’s just a size thing, but in transition you’d be hard pressed to find anyone you’d rather want taking and hitting a trailing three or trailing layup than Quickley.
Averaging 15 points per game in just 24 minutes per game with the Knicks while shooting 45% from the field should perfectly encapsulate why Raptors fans should be excited for his arrival.
This nugget from Louis Zatzman’s reaction piece about the trade, which is that Quickley is shooting 38.8 percent on pull-up threes, ranking him right in between Steph Curry & Trae Young. Big boost to the Raptors who have struggled from three point range.
He’s a huge spark off the bench for the Knicks, so I can’t imagine what he’s going to look like with starters minutes.
RR: Quickley unleashed will score you 20+ points per night, and should rack up four to five assists. Your prayers are answered. Pardon me while I weep silently.
Quickley over his 4 NBA seasons, per 36 minutes: 19.3 pts (22.5 this season), 4.7 reb, 4.4 ast, 37% 3P.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 30, 2023
He's only 24 and plays a position of need for the Raptors. Many believe he's on the cusp of taking a leap. Just needed a bigger role (averaged 24 mpg with Knicks this season).
Q: Why should Raptors fans be excited about getting Quickley?
CP: Raptors fans are getting a fan favourite in Quickley. He’s fun, he’s fast, and he’s extremely intelligent as a ball player.
This is someone who has unfortunately been relegated to the bench as a result of Jalen Brunson arriving in New York, but someone who should have very clearly been a starter with the team since the beginning of this season.
He is far and away one of the biggest reasons why the Knicks made the postseason as the five-seed last year, and the reason why they’ve stayed in games against elite teams this season like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic, both of which were close losses.
Quickley is simply the type of player who everyone will love to root for in Toronto, and someone who will raise the ceiling of this team whether they choose to keep fighting for a play-in spot or if they decide to blow things up to build around Barnes.
Get ready to see him dancing up and down the floor after hitting three after three and burying the opposing team on any given night at ScotiaBank Arena.
RR: See above. Great energy, great shooting, solid defense, and a terrific teammate. Off the court, he is immensely likable as a person, with great core values and character.
Q: Obviously Canadians are somewhat familiar with RJ Barrett, but what does he bring to NBA play that may be different from FIBA?
CP: FIBA RJ and NBA RJ have so far, to me, looked very different.
I feel like this summer, RJ leaned into his strength more and was able to be a lot more physical as a scorer, whereas with the Knicks so far this season it has felt like he’s almost scared to drive, relying on his three point shot that has simply not been falling at a clip New York needed to win games.
He should be looking to play off Quickley a lot more to get back to his FIBA-self, which is to say definitely trying to bully ball his way into the paint and into scoring as opposed to just sitting in the wings, waiting for a chance to take an open shot that probably will not fall.
RR: RJ needed to get away from Julius Randle. Their skills and profile overlap too much, and I’m not sure that RJ ever truly understood where he fit it.
His is a strong-bodied wing who should be averaging 22 points per night. And when he’s focused, he’s a much better defender than we give him credit for.
RJ Barrett is shooting...— Amit Mann (@Amit_Mann) December 30, 2023
-38% on corner 3s
-35% on C&S 3s
-60.9 pts% on 10.2 drives per game
(Barnes: 47.9% on 9.4 drives per game for comparison)
-57% at the rim
-Led the Knicks in pts per touch (not counting Jeffries)
18.2 pts 4.3reb 2.4ast on 42 fg% 33 3p% pic.twitter.com/S7xWKUyXnG
Q: Is he at his ceiling? How do you think he can improve still?
CP: I don’t think RJ is at his ceiling, but I’d say he’s close to it. He has to develop a mid range shot if he wants to remain a relevant piece of any starting lineup’s offense.
That’s probably the one area that I never saw any improvement from him, which was genuinely surprising considering he could very easily cook smaller SGs or SFs in the post with a consistent mid range jumper.
Additionally, he has to work on his finishing. It was frustrating to see him get into the paint at times because I knew that he was going to contort himself in a way that made the shot go from easy to difficult in the blink of an eye.
Essentially, I’d just describe his ceiling as being as low or high as his inconsistency on both ends of the floor - if he can become a 22-23 point per game player with at least a 35 percent three point shot, that could be his ceiling. As it stands now, he’s just been someone who occasionally tears a team up for a half to then struggle for his next 5-6 contests.
RR: He improves every season, and he is still growing. “He’s only 23!” is a common refrain around Posting & Toasting.
For instance, his free throw shooting has been automatic this season, and none of us saw that coming. He has too be careful about hitting the weights too hard, because he was a little too thick at the start of last season and it slowed him down.
His three point shot has never been great, but I think that’s coming with more seasoning.
Q: What did he bring to the Knicks both offensively and defensively?
CP: I’ll say that defensively, he has reverted back to his earlier Knicks days where he was really good at keeping his man in front of him, acting as a stopper when maybe Randle has not been as locked in as he’s needed to be defensively on the wings.
I’ve enjoyed that from his this season, and it has made up for a lot of his shortcomings offensively. Speaking of that, though, I would love to see him find his groove again with a change in scenery, as his inability to work with Randle on the floor was a huge disservice to his game.
RJ is such a good scorer when he has the space to work with the ball, but his handle and footwork have struggled as a result of being unable to consistently get to the rack without interference from Randle.
I’m curious to see how he & Barnes work together, since I feel they both take up the same areas of the floor as scorers, but I think with a true PG now in Quickley, the Raptors will be able to figure out a role for RJ where he still gets space to operate in while not deterring Barnes as a cutter.
RJ will absolutely become a much better cutter and scorer as a result of this trade, or at least he should, especially as he runs with Barnes in the shooting lane.
RR: For a short while under Thibs, RJ was picking up some of the tougher defensive assignments, but Quentin Grimes proved to be better at that.
I hope a fresh start refocuses his attention on that end of the floor. As for offense, he is strong enough to run right through smaller wings on the way to the rim; he would be even more dangerous in that regard if he improved his finishes at the rim.
The problem is that he gets tunnel-vision at times, and doesn’t make the decision to pass fast enough. Hence, he might drive the lane and find that Chet Holmgren is suddenly standing before him and realizes too late that he should abandon the drive.
Easier said than done.If RJ can improve his three-point shooting by two or three percentage points, learn to make quicker / smarter decisions on the run, and refocus on defense, you have a great player on your hands.
On a personal note, my six-year-old son is named, coincidentally, Rowan and he is heartbroken about the trade since RJ is his favorite player. And now I have a Barrett jersey in the back of my closet that is destined for the attic. It’s a sad day for some Knicks’ fans, children, and my wardrobe.
HUGE Thank you to both Candace and Russell for helping us get excited for our two newest Raptors! It seems both Quickley and RJ Barrett may be making their debut in Toronto on Monday’s game against Cleveland.