After suffering a lacerated finger against the Dallas Mavericks, Knicks forward RJ Barrett is expected to miss at least a week. Barrett has carried a heavy workload for the Knicks all season. He is third on the team in scoring, and second in field goal attempts, minutes per game and usage behind Julius Randle. Without Barrett’s production, the team will be looking upon others to step up.
Aside from Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes are due to be the biggest beneficiaries during Barrett’s absence.
Quickley and Grimes have both shown flashes in their short careers, but really impressed in the Knicks loss to the Dallas Mavericks after Barrett exited a minute into the game. Jalen Brunson also missed the game with a hip injury, opening up more space for Quickley and Grimes to excel.
In the overtime loss to the Mavericks, Quickley did not shoot the ball well (5-21), but found other ways to be effective. His passing was on full display, finishing the game with a career high 15 assists. Ever since Quickley was taken with the 25th pick in the 2020 draft, he has been a dynamic fireball off the Knicks bench. As fun scorer that can get hot on the right night, this gave a glimpse into what Quickley can do with more freedom in the offense. He has scored double digit points in 18 of 35 games this season, nine of those being 15+ points. We always knew he can score, the playmaking and assists open up another element to IQ’s game. Prior to the 15 assist explosion, Quickley had only achieved five-plus assists in five games this season, two of those coming on the second and third games of the season.
Quickley’s passing is exactly what the Knicks need right now. Sitting at 23rd in the NBA, New York has to do a better way of finding teammates. Jalen Brunson has been the Knicks leading assist man this season with a little over 6.5 per game. Randle slots in second at 3.6, followed by Quickley at 3.2. Without Barretts 20 points per game, Quickley will want to take it upon himself to make up for the scoring. Although the individual scoring is nice, IQ can certainly show another gear by continuing to pass and generate assists. In the loss to the Mavericks, he put together 23 potential assists, connecting on 15 of them. Taking more control of the offense as a playmaker will be important for Quickley’s growth as he builds into a more complete player.
After struggling to start the season, IQ has started to find his footing. The Mavericks game could be a jumpstart to a breakout second half for the third-year guard.
Beautiful passing & cutting leads to a much needed Grimes 3️⃣! pic.twitter.com/io0sEzvCUM— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 28, 2022
sweet no-look feed by Immanuel Quickley to Mitchell Robinson— Beyond the RK (@beyondtheRK) December 28, 2022
IQ ignores the screen in P&R, penetrates the paint with the dribble drive, draws the big into help, and finds MRob open in the dunker spot,
one of Quickley's Career-High 15 Assists! pic.twitter.com/ccYGnVq653
Knicks shooting guard Quentin Grimes is also set for a bigger opportunity in Barrett’s time out. Grimes, averaging a modest ten points in 27 minutes per game this season, exploded in the loss to Dallas. In 48 minutes of floor time, Grimes scored a career high 33 points on a career tying seven made three-pointers (7-16).
Along with Quickley’s passing, New York could really use Grimes shooting. He should get a chance to put that more on display in the next week. In the month of December, Grimes has five games of at least four-plus three pointers. Last season, he had five total of four-plus. His 4.8 three point attempts per game is third on the team to Julius Randle (7.2) and RJ Barrett (5.3). Grimes does have the best three point percentage on the team at 37.7%, and should start to see an uptick in shot attempts.
Quentin Grimes is the best shooter on the team, he just doesn’t get enough opportunity to show it. Without RJ, Grimes should see his 7.3 field goal attempts per game raise to double digits. The 4.8 threes could touch around seven to eight per game. For a team in the bottom five of three point percentage, it would be in their best interest to get their best shooter more shots from deep.
Adding his element of shooting will keep defenses needing to follow his every foot step. This will open up the floor more for Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson who both are more effective getting to the basket than hanging on the perimeter. Grimes offers the size and shooting to be the Knicks starting shooting guard for the near future. It’s time to see what it could look like with an increased workload.
The next week and beyond will be huge for Grimes and his growth in the offense.