Immanuel Quickley, the 25th-overall pick in the 2020 draft, acknowledged that part of his comfort factor has been the presence of assistant coach Kenny Payne, who was with him in that role at Kentucky under John Calipari before joining Thibodeau’s coaching staff this season.
“It’s helped me transition, great, honestly,” Quickley said. “Not even from the basketball side, but just from somebody that I know is going to push me day in and day out, somebody I can talk with, almost like a father figure, basically. It’s just great to have him, honestly.”
According to Thibodeau, he met Payne several years ago through current Knicks executive William Wesley, and they had held several conversations together before various drafts about players coming out of college.