Quentin Grimes has gotten off to an inauspicious start this season. It’s not a matter of if but rather a matter of when the Knicks’ wing takes off.
Before this New York Knicks season, I made a bold prediction that Quentin Grimes would take a quantum leap this season and become a 3-and-D stud, similar to what Klay Thompson has been out in the Bay Area for the Golden State Warriors.
I think it’s fair to assume that Grimes won’t share the championship pedigree that Thompson has enjoyed for the last decade or so, but I am a huge believer in the young shooting guard and view him as a cornerstone piece of the future, on par with RJ Barrett and right behind Jalen Brunson.
At 6-foot-5 and only 23 years old, Grimes has an excellent build for a modern-day shooting guard and still has a few years to develop before he hits the prime of his career. The former 25th overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft had already shown great improvement from year one to year two, nearly doubling his scoring output from six points per game to 11.3 points per game, while also pumping up his shooting percentage by about six points.
For a Knicks team that has for the most part struggled offensively, particularly from behind the three-point line in recent years, you need guys like Grimes who can give you six to nine quick points at times, or at least be a threat to hit an outside shot. I believe he has been good in his role while having to overcome Tom Thibodeau often being resistant to giving young guys as many minutes as you’d like to see. In his first two full seasons, Grimes has been good, showing some flashes of brilliance.
Fast forward to this season, and Grimes has regressed a bit, in terms of last season’s production, point-wise. Aside from a 17-point, five-triple performance in last week’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Grimes has been held to 12 points or less in every game, including a scoreless effort in the Knicks’ loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Prior to the Knicks’ last game, though, Grimes’ percentage from behind the arc was the highest of his career. He’s cutting down on the frequencies at which he commits turnovers and fouls compared to years past. That notable third-year leap that young stars make/what I predicted just hasn’t come to fruition…yet.
I don’t believe Grimes is getting worse, or even plateauing for that matter. This partially has to do with the addition of Donte DiVincenzo to the orange and blue. The former Villanova Wildcat doesn’t demand or take many shots but with him getting more minutes than the guy who he effectively replaced, Obi Toppin, it’s likely going to mean less touches for Grimes. This isn’t a problem for the team, as DDV is expected to fill a relatively important role, however for Grimes individually, you’d think this might not be the best of circumstances.
Despite this theory, if you compare Grimes’ adaptation to new shooting guards, this was a bit surprising to see: last season, after Josh Hart joined the Knicks, Grimes’ minutes went down by about two per game. However, he averaged more points in 25 games with Hart, than his 46 games pre-Hart, per Stat Muse. A smaller sample size, but this did show that Grimes actually got better when Hart came over from Portland.
On a more micro level, in Hart’s first nine games in New York, Grimes actually was worse, scoring double-digits once in those games. He was much better to close out the regular season. The Grimes-DiVincenzo dynamic early on this season looks eerily similar to what we saw from Grimes to kick off the Josh Hart era last season.
It took a bit of time for QG to get accustomed to playing with Hart, but then he looked better after the initial getting-to-know-each-other period. I think we are seeing a pattern here, when Grimes gets used to playing with a new face in the backcourt, he can coexist nicely and begin to ascend to where I predicted he’d be prior to the season.
Keep an eye out for Quentin Grimes to take a big step forward and pull himself out of this early season rut.