Going into the 2022-23 season, it was unknown if Knicks shooting guard Quentin Grimes would be starting or coming off the bench. Once Grimes was injured and unable to start the season, Evan Fournier took the spot. Seven games into the season, Grimes replaced Fournier in the starting lineup and has held the position all season.
To get a better picture of Grimes, it’s worth looking back on his NBA rookie season and the jump he made in college:
The 25th overall selection in the 2021 NBA draft, Grimes had a decent but injury-plagued rookie season. Appearing in 46 games (starting six), he played 17.1 minutes, averaging six points. Attempting 4.1 three-pointers per game, Grimes shot 38.1 percent from deep. Those stats would have been the top of his rookie class if he had met the minimum requirements. According to Statmuse, Pacers guard Chris Duarte led the 2021-22 class in three-point percentage at 36.9 percent. A player had to hit at least 82 three-pointers to make the list, and Grimes only hit 72. Regardless of silly requirements, the Knicks’ first-round pick definitely showed an ability to shoot, and it looked like the Knicks had a draft steal.
A concern with Grimes during his rookie year was how he would evolve as a player.
In college, he attended Kansas for his freshman year before transferring to the University of Houston for his sophomore and junior seasons. At Houston, he took a leap from his sophomore to junior year and raised his scoring from 12.1 to 17.8. Two big areas of improvement were raising his three-point percentage from 32.6 percent to 40.3 and free-throw from 66.0 percent to 78.8. Always pesky on the defensive end, his 1.7 steals per game and 2.4 defensive win shares stood out. He would lead Houston to the Final Four in the 2020-21 season.
Looking back on nbadraft.net, Grimes’s NBA comparison ironically was now Knicks teammate Josh Hart. He was applauded for his defense and shooting and knocked for his handle and lack of shot creation.
Projected as a quality NBA guard, Grimes possessed the size and physicality needed to be a primary defender and shooter.
Already playing in more games this season (49) than last season (46), it gives us a sample size to compare how Grimes has progressed. Playing 30.2 minutes per game, he’s seen an increase in production across the board. Except for one major area.
Cons: Three-point shooting percentage
His three-point shooting dip is a bit of a concern. After shooting 38.1 percent in his rookie season, that number has turned to 34.8 percent this season. The dropoff has been disappointing and contributes to why the Knicks have been one of the worst outside-shooting teams all season. To take a positive, he continues to look comfortable from the left corner. He shot 48.5 percent from there during his rookie season and is shooting 49.2 percent this season despite 26 more attempts to this point.
Giving Grimes the benefit of the doubt, this is only his first full NBA season. Not dismissing it’s been a problem, but rather trying to take an optimistic outlook approach. His shooting should hopefully come back around, but it’s been other facets of his game that have been noticeable.
Pros: Attacking the basket, passing
Points in the paint have been a nice upgrade. Going from virtually invisible in the paint his rookie year (0.7 ppg), that number has risen to 3.3. His fast-break points have also gone up from 0.9 to 1.8. It shows growth from Grimes as a player to recognize if the shots aren’t falling, there are other ways to get involved. Using his athleticism, he’s had 15 dunks this season, last season he only had three. The layup difference is also staggering. In his rookie year, he made 12 of 20 layups attempted. This season, he’s made 66 of 100. Something to point out is Grimes has made 11 of 13 attempts on layups cutting to the basket. He’s also hit five of five on cutting dunks. Despite the poor outside shooting numbers, defenses will still pay attention to Grimes on the perimeter. This should continue to give him good chances to cut to the basket, and the Knicks could benefit greatly from involving him more that way. If he can shoot a little better and work in more action to the basket, we easily could be looking at 14-17 points per game player.
Grimes can create easy baskets for himself with plays like this:
Quentin Grimes drives and thrives along the baseline! pic.twitter.com/GGq8OMvMp4— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 1, 2023
Playmaking is another positive step he’s taken. Playing with guys like Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Julius Randle, Grimes doesn’t handle the ball much. Poor ball handling was duly noted in his predraft profile. This season he has at least looked more comfortable with the ball in his hands. Averaging a full assist more from his rookie year, the potential assists have also increased. This season he’s averaging 3.1 compared to 1.9. Grimes is also generating 4.7 assist points per game, up from 2.6 last season. Although he is only averaging 1.9 assists per game, his impact moving the ball is far greater than the numbers show.
It will be exciting to see how the Knicks can utilize Grimes more as a playmaker going forward:
Quentin Grimes Makes the Right Plays™️ pic.twitter.com/C7yoND4nAE— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 21, 2022
What a pass by Quentin Grimes— NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2023
Knicks trail 110-108 with 2:55 to go on TNT! pic.twitter.com/Xox4xZvKMN
The Quentin Grimes playmaking jump seems real, over these last 3 games he is averaging just under 5 assists per game. He always seems to make the right pass. pic.twitter.com/OcxJsbFubS— Teg (@IQfor3) November 26, 2022
Grimes was expected to be a player who would be a sharpshooter from deep. The regression this season may be a one-off, but even if he is a career 34-36 percent three-point shooter, he’s left plenty of good breadcrumbs this season that show he has a place in the NBA.
Upgrading his willingness and quickness to go to the basket has made him incredibly effective. He’s not a player who will just stand in the corner. If things break down, he knows how to get himself open and make something out of nothing. His increase in playmaking has unlocked another element of his game, and those assists numbers should only continue to increase. It’s been encouraging to watch Grimes’s basketball IQ grow in his second year.
We are only starting to scratch the surface of what Quentin Grimes can evolve into as a basketball player. The 25th pick in the 2021 NBA draft . . . a draft steal indeed.
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