The New York Knicks defeated the Washington Wizards, 105-89, in Friday night’s preseason finale. If the No. 1 goal of preseason is to get and stay healthy, the biggest story of the evening was the return of Quentin Grimes, who had sat the entire preseason with a sore foot. As P&T’er Jaybugkit noted, this game was mostly about welcoming Grimes back into the fold.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau even threw an interesting wrinkle into his rotations to accommodate Grimes! Evan Fournier started both halves at shooting guard, but Grimes finished both halves with the starters. This was the first time I actually believed that Thibs had designs of perhaps grooming Grimes for the starting shooting guard spot. We know Fournier will begin the regular season as the starter, but the backcourt pairing of him and Jalen Brunson doesn’t inspire much confidence on the defensive end. Maybe Thibs has already resigned himself to this. Keep it in mind as we head toward the real basketball campaign.
And how was Grimes in his postseason debut? Mostly fine. He took only two shots, hitting neither. He did attack a couple of closeouts off the dribble with the same panache we saw in Summer League, drawing in the defense and dishing to Mitchell Robinson. One time it led to a Mitch dunk; the next time, Grimes’ pass had a bit too much mustard on it, and it resulted in a turnover. That’s fine. He needs more reps with these guys. Hopefully he gets them in the regular season.
- Mitchell Robinson had quietly been dominating preseason until Friday night, when that dominance was no longer quiet. Mitch decimated the Washington frontline to the tune of 20 points (9-12 shooting) and 12 rebounds (nine offensive). He was truly a man among boys when it came to the offensive glass.
I've watched this at least a half dozen times and I still can't get over the height of the ball when Mitch gets the second offensive rebound. And I've been watching the dude for four years. pic.twitter.com/vDs0PD5WvT— Jonathan Macri (@JCMacriNBA) October 15, 2022
Mitch got paid this summer, but instead of growing complacent, he has played like a beast this preseason. You love to see it. They’re going to need his interior defense early in the season as they sort out the perimeter D.
- I’d like to pose a question to those who think the Knicks overpaid Jalen Brunson: would you rather have Brunson at four years, $104 million or Bradley Beal at five years, $251 million? It really is a no-brainer, right? Brunson was clearly the better player on Friday, dropping an efficient 27 points (10-16 shooting) and five assists on Washington. The starting lineup has crushed opponents all preseason, and Brunson is probably the main reason why. Hopefully that continues as the regular season kicks off and the competition gets tougher.
- I thought Julius Randle got a little jumper-happy on Friday. It wasn’t working for him, as he shot 3-11 for 10 points. Still, he was moving the ball fairly well, and he did some excellent work switching onto guards on defense. I’d like to see the Knicks switch a bit more on D, as Randle is quite good at it.
- RJ Barrett finished the preseason shooting a tidy 50% from three. How soon the haters forget that he was a 40% three-point shooter just two years ago. Hopefully the rebound is coming.
- The bench — normally the strength of the team — is still very much a work in progress. New center Isaiah Hartenstein has very different strengths and weaknesses than previous Knicks centers, and it’ll take time for his teammates to acclimate. I think they’ll get it figured out soon enough.
- Obi Toppin seemed to roll his ankle in the fourth quarter. Hopefully it isn’t serious.
And so the 2022 preseason draws to a close. The games count now. Is that a good thing? We’ll find out next week!