With the Knicks’ recent success, Quentin Grimes’ low production has flown under the radar. The team will need more from him to sustain it.
Since his elevation to the starting lineup back in November, Quentin Grimes has enjoyed a solid second season in his new role. With the team becoming red-hot in the last month, his play only becomes more and more valuable to the New York Knicks’ success going forward.
It has been a roller coaster of a season for Grimes to say the least. From being rumored in a trade for Donovan Mitchell to becoming a starter and playing in the Rising Stars game, he has proven the haters wrong time and time again all season long. But following the All-Star break, Grimes has had to endure a new challenge: competing for playing time with new trade acquisition Josh Hart. Averaging nearly 30 minutes a night this season, Grimes has seen that number dwindle to 24.3 since the Hart trade. As a result, his numbers have regressed, averaging 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, seeing less and less of the ball with other Knick guards making a leap.
Regardless of other players on the team finding success recently, Grimes’s role remains as important as ever. His ability to knock down threes at an efficient clip and play great defense against some of the best offensive players in the league is a testament to his hard work and determination. Not to mention, Grimes has one of the quickest first steps in the NBA, which puts him in a prime position to make plays for his team when given the chance. Check out this nice move in transition from the former Houston guard from the Knicks game against Charlotte on Tuesday.
Viewed as a three-and-D type of player heading into the season, Grimes has shown that he is much more than that. With a quick release and a lightning-quick first step, he has unwavering amounts of potential that has yet to translate. However, between his inexperience as a starting 2-guard combined with being misused by the coaching staff, his production hasn’t seen the light of day. Considering those things, here are a couple of ways that Grimes and the coaching staff can get the most out of him -even in limited action per game.
Staggering his Minutes with the Starting Lineup
A big reason why Grimes doesn’t see significant production in his minutes out on the floor is that Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle are dictating the offense and rightfully so. But it doesn’t mean that Grimes should suffer because of their success. A thought that comes to mind is to relegate him to the bench in favor of Josh Hart. For Grimes, he shouldn’t think of it as a demotion, but rather it gives him more of an opportunity to thrive. Look at how well Immanuel Quickley has performed against opposing second units. Putting Grimes in the same situation will only give him more looks and could boost his play and overall efficiency. With both him and Quickley on the floor, the Knicks have an offensive rating of 117.9 and a defensive rating of 108.3, showing that they can be a lethal duo against opposing second units.
Even with the bench allowing for Grimes to get more opportunities and Hart being a better fit in the starting lineup, it’s unlikely that Tom Thibodeau makes the switch, especially given how successful the team has been lately. Regardless of any rotation changes, Thibodeau should look to stagger more of his minutes to maximize the team’s efficiency on defense and shooting from behind the arc. This would shift Hart to get more minutes with the starting crew, which would help maximize efficiency with Grimes now able to work freely and look for his shot more.
Taking More Initiative
Quentin Grimes is more than just a 3-and-D caliber player. He has the ability to blow by his defender in a matter of seconds and make a good read to get the Knicks a bucket. Except that doesn’t always happen, since Grimes is reserved within the Knicks’ offense. Fourth or even fifth in the pecking order in the starting lineup, Grimes seems to be an afterthought at times. As crazy as it seems considering he’s a starter, it feels like he is still the Knicks’ secret weapon. Grimes has to initiate more within the offense. It’s a crime if he doesn’t.
He’s got one of the quickest if not the quickest first step in the league, attacking a closeout with ease which keeps the defense guessing and scrambling at all times.
Running Plays to Get Him Open
An offense that focuses on Randle, Barrett, and Brunson getting a large volume of shots, leaves Grimes as the odd man out when it comes to shot-making in his overall rhythm. A way to mitigate that would be to get him more involved within the offense, specifically with staggered screens to free him up for open looks around the arc. If I were the Knicks coaching staff, I’d look into studying what makes the Golden State Warriors’ offense as good as it is by getting their shooters open. If New York can incorporate some plays that will directly look to get Grimes space behind the three-point arc, then it forces the defense to make a decision on whether to make a hard contest or give the former Cougar a wide-open shot. Even if the opposition anticipates Grimes getting open, they’ll have to sacrifice something as a result, whether it’s making a switch or leaving someone open, very much to the benefit of the Knicks.
During the Knicks’ 9-game win streak, Grimes shot a phenomenal 42.5% from downtown, showing that he can knock down the three ball even in low amounts. His shot-making is extremely crucial to this team’s success as he is the only Knick that is a consistent volume shooter. Getting him more involved in the offense will only benefit this team even more. Going back to my earlier point of staggering his minutes, if it means running plays involving staggered screens with the second unit, then so be it. Anything that results in an uptick in touches for Quentin will benefit everyone involved (except the opposing defense, of course).