As crazy as it may seem on a team that boasts names like Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley, it may actually be Quentin Grimes who helps take the Knicks’ offense to a new level next season. That may seem like a slight overstatement for a third-year player coming off of a season in which he averaged just 11.3PPG but there are numerous metrics that suggest that Grimes can be a more prolific scorer if given the chance.
One way in which head coach Tom Thibodeau can help, is by involving the young shooting guard in more plays and actions instead of just delegating him to sitting in the corner all game long. This isn’t to say that Grimes needs to be the focal point of the offense or a main initiator because the Knicks already have two ball-dominant guys who are coming off of amazing seasons. But Thibodeau should be able to diversify the offense and give guys like Randle and Brunson a bit of a break by entrusting Grimes with more responsibilities and opportunities on the offensive end. And that should start with getting him going with more handoff plays akin to how the Knicks utilized Evan Fournier a couple of seasons ago when he set the franchise record for most three-pointers in a single season.
random game by a Knick day 16— Teg (@IQfor3) August 1, 2023
Quentin Grimes vs the Pacers on 4/5/23:
61/39/75 splits pic.twitter.com/rvOIYCb93g
Last season, Grimes proved to be an incredibly efficient and deadly scorer off of handoffs in the limited opportunities he got and ranked in the 92.5th percentile in the league by scoring 1.28PPP (22nd in the league) on such plays. And a big reason Grimes was able to be so effective off of such plays was his prowess when getting downhill and into the paint. Now, this may come as a bit of a surprise to some because Grimes is still known primarily as an outside shooter, but if you watch the way he attacks closeouts, it’s clear that he has a knack for not only getting into the lane, but also finishing at an efficient rate.
Last season, Grimes ranked third on the team in two-point field goal percentage at an impressive 64.1%, which ranked just below Jericho Sims, and Mitchell Robinson, both of whom get the majority of their points through putbacks, dunks, and alley-oops. The shooting guard also ranked third on the team in field goal percentage in the restricted area, shooting an efficient 71.9% behind Josh hart and the aforementioned Sims. Grimes also shot 55.3% on drives overall, which ranked fourth on the team and 29th in the league (for players averaging more than 3.4 drives per game), which put him ahead of guys like Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, and LeBron James.
JJ Redick on Quentin Grimes taking a leap this season: “Let’s assume Knicks don’t make a trade: The guy that could potentially give them another 5 wins in the regular season, & really really help them in the playoffs, I think — as much as people talk about Quickley (Quickley’s… pic.twitter.com/CRT4muwHik— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) July 28, 2023
Now, fans may argue that a lot of Grimes’ two-point opportunities come from fastbreaks, broken plays, and plays in which Randle and Brunson do the majority of the work. That may be the case, but it doesn’t mean that Grimes can’t get his own shot, or that he can’t make them when creating for himself. Last season, on plays where players took three to six dribbles, Grimes shot 52.6% from two. It was a very limited sample size as he averaged just .5 of those per game, but that percentage still puts him ahead of Brunson, Randle, and Barrett, while being just 1.3% lower than Quickley. All of those guys are more or less seen as players who can get their own shot and get to the basket, and Grimes is right up there with them.
Would like to see the Knicks run more actions for Grimes where they get him going downhill towards the middle of the floor. His ability to attack closeouts (especially from the corner) is well documented but this could help expand the ways he's utilized in the offense pic.twitter.com/yf4BMHFfQK— Ariel (@APachecoNBA) July 28, 2023
But obviously, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine or else even the notoriously stubborn Thibs would have gotten him involved more. Despite a lot the numbers looking good so far, there are still holes in Grimes’ game inside the arc that he will surely need to address. The former Houston Cougar shot an abysmal 21.1% from 3-10 feet out, which was 12th on the team, and he was 13th on the team in field goal percentage from 10-16 feet out, shooting 18.2%. Grimes also shot just 12.5% (1-8) on two-pointers when there was a defender within two to four feet of him. Those are admittedly pretty tough numbers to swallow, but if he can continue improving in those areas while building on the areas of strength, there’s a chance that Grimes can develop in to a very solid three level scorer.
As is usually the case when discussing young players taking a big leap, there will be questions about sustaining efficiency if given a bigger load and sample size. There’s a possibility that Grimes’ percentages, and effectiveness go down with a bigger offensive role. But we’ll never know unless he’s given that chance. It’ll ultimately come down to Thibodeau and Grimes himself. The coach will likely need to change some things up, trust his young shooting guard, and implement plays and sets to encourage his increased usage. Meanwhile, Grimes will need to continue learning how to utilize his tantalizing skills and play more confidently and decisively. But overall, given the video evidence and the statistics we’ve seen, it’s clear that Grimes has the potential to be more than a 3 and D player.