The Knicks enter the new season with approximately the same roster as they ended last season, effectively betting on internal development and chemistry to raise the team’s ceiling. Many are looking at their core pieces – Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle – along with their top-flight prospects – RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley – to step up and take the franchise to a new level.
But perhaps their biggest X-factor this year will be Quentin Grimes, the third-year man taken deep in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft that emerged as a starter-quality 3-and-D wing in 2023. His steady presence helped secure a fifth-seed finish after playing sparingly in his rookie campaign, and at just 23 years old, there’s plenty of room to grow.
Grimes averaged 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in the regular season, shooting 64.1 percent from two and 38.6 percent from three. While extremely efficient, he was mostly limited to catch-and-shoot threes and transition or closeout attacks from two.
Having a second-year player who can spot up and still make plays off the dribble while defending the best opposing scorer on a nightly basis is nothing to scoff at, but Grimes has shown he’s capable of more. Prior to his NBA days, Grimes was a top-ten recruit out of high school and 17.8 points per game volume scorer his final year at Houston.
Fans have been waiting for that more explosive Grimes to return, even as far back as his scorching Draft Combine performances. We started seeing signs of it in New York last season.
Grimes doesn’t have the fanciest dribble moves but has a lightning first step that he used to drive 3.5 times a night, resulting in 55.3 percent shooting and the highest assist percentage in the rotation. He’s sneakily bouncy, has a good touch and isn’t afraid of contact, on top of having a knack for interior passing, suggesting he should boost his driving volume.
When he finds and attacks his lane, Grimes has been solid in limited chances. But one aspect of his game that hasn’t translated as smoothly is his pull-up shooting.
Last season, Grimes went 3-18 (16.7 percent) pulling up from two-point range and 16-55 (29.1 percent) from three. Fleshing that part of his game out will help diversify his closeout attacks, improve his self-creation and allow him to run pick-and-rolls.
Becoming an off-dribble threat could unleash Grimes’s scoring potential. He’s had some big nights already in his career: 27 points against Milwaukee in his first start, 33 points in Dallas, and a 36-point outing to close the season.
This isn’t even discussing his defensive potential. He already consistently takes the toughest assignment and usually guards very well, from the diminutive stars like Trae Young to the big wing threats like Paul George.
His off-ball rotations and help are sound too, though his activity doesn’t appear on the stat sheet. He averages under one block and one steal per 36 minutes, usually playing more conservatively to stay in front of his man.
It will be interesting to watch his growth on this end, as he already possesses such sound foundations and could become an elite two-way threat. He still got some rookie treatment from officials and could put up more steals and blocks, small things that could build him into a major impact player.
While some await the Barrett star leap and others bemoan Obi Toppin‘s departure, it could be Grimes’s next step that shifts the franchise’s fortunes for the better. Already a dependable role piece – if he builds on top of that this season and beyond – he can be much more.
Source: Yahoo Sports