The Knicks’ second-year wing was left open at the top of the key when DeMar DeRozan sagged to help trap Julius Randle in the post. Grimes relocated to the left wing with a triple team blinding Randle’s view. Randle found Grimes and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, even with Zach LaVine closing out hard on him.
A friendly bouncer after, the Knicks was in command, 125-119, on Grimes’ clutch three-pointer with 1:04 to go in overtime. It was the separation they needed to hold off the hard-fighting Bulls, who came back from 14 points down in the first half to force overtime.
Grimes wasn’t called Big Shot Q in Houston for nothing.
“Definitely [I got that mental toughness] from coach [Kelvin] Sampson of the University of Houston. He’d be on you 24/7, no matter if you’re the water boy, the star, it doesn’t matter. He prepares you for moments like this. He prepared me for a couple of [big] moments when I was in Houston. you can be very decisive visit prepare me for a couple moments. When I was in Houston. I was able to capitalize on. Him and Thibs definitely prepared me for this moment.”Quentin Grimes postgame via MSG Network
With the Cougars under Sampson, Grimes picked up pieces of a lackluster showing in Kansas that dropped him from a sure-fire lottery pick into a forgotten prospect.
Sampson, a former NBA assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, tapped into Grimes’ potential and molded him to become one of the nation’s top two-way wings on their way to a Final Four appearance and winning the ACC Tournament MVP along the way. He hit big shot after big shot in college, preparing him for the moment that presented Wednesday night.
“It’s his makeup. No matter what’s going on in the game, he’s so locked into what he’s doing. He’s put the work into it. And so there’s no moment that’s too big for him. No moment too small. And this is a guy when you look at what he did, he’d been kicked and gouged. He transferred from Kansas to Houston and helped them get to the Final Four. But that tells you a lot about him. Adversity didn’t affect him in a negative way. He turned it into a positive.”Tom Thibodeau on Quentin Grimes’ mental toughness via MSG Network
It didn’t happen overnight for Grimes to become a knocked-down shooter. He’s been shooting a ton since high school, and those reps continued to grow as he leaped from college to the pros.
When Thibodeau took over, the first thing he did was to install Noah Basketball at the Knicks practice facility, a shooting system that uses real-time feedback and analytics. Chris Gilmartin, his former pro scout at Minnesota, now a member of Noah Basketball’s business development and sales team, hooked him up and the Knicks with the advanced technology.
“When you ask where does confidence come from? Confidence comes from your preparation. And so when you shoot as much as [Grimes] shoots and we track it, I can tell you left, right, depth of the shot. Arc of the shot, right.
This guy made a major commitment. And it didn’t start when we drafted him. He had that. If you just look at a shot profile when he was in college, they’ll tell you the same thing. And so he’s driven. He prepares himself extremely well. And every one of his teammates, if he’s open they, want to see him shoot.”Tom Thibodeau on Quentin Grimes’ confidence via MSG Network
Grimes left Houston with 142 three-pointers made on a 37.6 percent clip over his two seasons with the Cougars.
During this Knicks’ five-game winning streak, Grimes is averaging 11.8 points and 2.2 3s per game on a 42.3 percent clip. That’s on top of 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.0 blocks across 35.8 minutes as a starter.
His stellar individual defense has stood out more than his shotmaking, which has been buried under the Knicks Big 3 of Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett. But his movement off the ball — constant cutting and re-locating to make himself open — has given him opportunities to shine despite his limited ball-handling opportunities.
After a poor start, the ill effects of the nagging foot injury that sidelined him at the beginning of the training camp, Grimes’ shot is finally rounding to form.
Hard work pays off.
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