Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau defends choice to stick with struggling Quentin Grimes

NBA: New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

After a successful sophomore season that saw G/F Quentin Grimes earn his way into the New York Knicks‘ starting lineup, becoming a key factor in the team’s playoff run, this season has been much of the opposite.

This was supposed to be a breakout season for Quentin Grimes

Grimes, who averaged 11.3 points per game last season, was seen as a potential breakout candidate heading into the 2023-24 season. The third-year guard was seen working out with former NBA sharpshooter J.J Redick in the offseason, and the expectation was that Grimes would begin to unlock his full potential this season.

Grimes’ performance has fallen off drastically

However, the complete opposite has happened, as Grimes’ performance has fallen off across the board, averaging just 6.2 points per game through the team’s first 19 games. His efficiency has taken a hit as well, in the 2022-23 season, Grimes shot 47% from the floor, and 38% from the 3-point line, those figures have fallen to 36% from the field, and 35% from 3 so far this season.

The 23-year-old’s struggles have been much more pronounced recently, after scoring 11 points against the Atlanta Hawks on November 15th, Grimes has averaged 2.6 points per game, while shooting just 20% from 3 in his six games since, a stretch that includes two performances in which he didn’t score at all.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau speaks on Grimes’ struggles

Grimes’ struggles have prompted many to question if he should remain in the starting lineup, as the Knicks possess a wealth of guard talent on their roster. Donte DiVincenzo in particular, has given the Knicks exceptional value off the bench in his first year with the team, knocking down 43% of his 3-pointers this season, while providing New York with constant activity on both sides of the floor, a stark difference from what Grimes has provided in the starting lineup.

Speaking with The New York Post, Head Coach Tom Thibodeau gave his thoughts on the current state of the Knicks’ rotation, suggesting that Grimes has not hurt the team with his poor play.

“My thing is, I’m worried about the team playing well,” Thibodeau told The New York Post. “If one guy doesn’t make shots, that’s part of the game. What are the other things that you’re doing when you’re on the floor? Is the unit performing well? To me, it’s not about individuals. It’s about, how is the unit performing?”

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The numbers speak volumes

New York’s starting five of Brunson-Grimes-Barrett-Randle-Robinson boasts a net rating of plus-7.3, which would suggest that Grimes is still having a positive impact. However, as a team, when Grimes is on the floor, the Knicks have a net rating of minus-2.2.

Despite Grimes’ poor play, there has been zero indication from head coach Tom Thibodeau that a change is imminent. Given Thibodeau’s history of sticking with something for extended periods of time, even despite poor results, it would likely take a lot for him to make a change, especially given the fact that New York is currently winners of 10 of their last 13 games.