The trade for OG Anunoby has led to so many changes and improvements for the New York Knicks, and a lot of those things have been discussed ad nauseam all over the basketball world. The improved defense, the more aesthetically pleasing and spaced-out offense, and the overall dominance of the starting lineup have all gotten its rightful attention.
While there are other storylines like Isaiah Hartenstein finding a new level, the improved play of Deuce McBride, or Josh Hart returning to form, one trend that has yet to garner the attention it deserves, at least from casual basketball fans and analysts, is the resurgence of Quentin Grimes.
For much of the season leading up to the OG trade, Grimes had looked like a shell of himself. He was passing up open shots and looking to attack closeouts way less frequently, and when he did go up with a shot or put the ball on the floor, it rarely led to positive things. Defensively, he was still a crucial part of the Knicks’ starting lineup, but offensively, he had looked as bad, tentative, and lost, as we had since he entered the league in 2021.
For a brief stretch after losing his starting job to Donte DiVincenzo, he looked a bit more like his old self, however. In his first two games coming off the bench, Grimes averaged 16 PPG in 23.1 MPG on 57.1% shooting from both the field and three.
Unfortunately for both Grimes and the Knicks, the young shooting guard fell back into a slump. In the nine games from December 13th, to December 29th, Grimes averaged just 4.4 PPG in 15.2 MPG on 36.6% shooting from the field and 34.5% shooting from three, and fans around the league started to take notice. There were constant posts mocking the Knicks for valuing him so highly in prior offseasons and it got so bad that even Knicks fans were starting to wonder if we’d ever see Grimes be the kind of player that we had once envisioned.
While a five-game sample is still quite small, so far, it looks like Grimes may be yet another winner of the Anunoby trade. In those five games, the third-year guard is averaging 12 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 19.2 MPG while shooting 45.2% from the field and 45.2% from three. Again, it’s a small sample, but it isn’t just the results that we have to look at here.
Take a look back at any of these games and you can see that the 23-year-old guard is playing with a level of confidence and aggressiveness on offense that we hadn’t seen since the end of last season. It’s not improbable that Grimes reverts to being passive once he hits a slump, but for now, it seems like Grimes is trending in the right direction.
Day by day, and game by game, he’s looking more and more like the confident knockdown shooter, who can attack closeouts while being one of the best defenders on the court.
But Knicks fans do need to stay cautious about buying too much into the Grimes stock for now.
For one, as mentioned above, it’s still a small sample, and asking for consistency from a 23-year-old third-year non-star player can be a difficult task.
Second, we have to see how the playing time ends up balancing out. It’s certainly helped that the Knicks have had some dominant and easy wins, allowing for Tom Thibodeau to send Grimes out there. But how will Thibodeau deploy Grimes and manage his minutes when the schedule gets harder?
And lastly, there’s still the possibility—a strong one for now—that the Knicks add another ball handler off the bench. How will adding a player like Jordan Clarkson, or Malcolm Brogdon possibly impact Grimes’ minutes, usage, and confidence? With how turbulent and inconsistent Grimes’ confidence and roles have been this season, all of these must be considered.
The hope, obviously, is that he can just continue to be who he has been as of late. Keep shooting, and continue attacking regardless of who he is on the floor with. Because as good of a defender as Grimes is, if he is just going to regress to being a shot-shy, passive, player on offense, chances are, the Knicks (and Thibs) will just rely even more on the pairing of DiVincenzo and Hart to eat up the shooting guard minutes, especially in the playoffs.
That is a problem the Knicks do not want for multiple reasons. Grimes remains a piece that the Knicks like but also think can be used in a major trade, additionally, the Knicks, as currently constructed, still need depth with how the recent trade left the second unit. For both of those reasons, the Knicks are banking on and hoping that Grimes’ newfound form is here to stay.