Coming off an impressive victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks will gear up to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
With Julius Randall learning to co-exist with Kemba Walker, the Knicks have been far more productive as of late, scoring 101 points against a solid Atlanta team. Walker has been a godsend since his return from exile, posting a triple-double in the win on Saturday and four consecutive games with double-digit points, one of which he scored 44 points against Washington.
The return of Walker has been inspiring, as Randle had nothing but great things to say about his teammate and their cohesion. However, one young player is blooming at the midway point and is deserving of more minutes moving forward.
The Knicks need more of Quentin Grimes:
Rookie guard Quentin Grimes has been stellar as of late, posting two consecutive games with double-digit points, despite spending 10 days on the NBA’s health and protocols list. Against Milwaukee on December 12, Grimes scored 27 points and shot 7 of 13 from three-point range. In the win against Atlanta on Saturday, he followed that up with 15 points and 41.7% shooting from three.
In the month of December, Grimes is shooting 48.4% from three-point range and averaging 8.5 points over just 14.5 minutes per game. However, Grimes isn’t only a solid scorer, he’s also an aggressive on-ball defender.
The former Houston stand-out has a 105.1 defensive rating this season, far above Evan Fournier’s 112 defensive rating and -5.7 net rating.
When the Knicks are in rhythm, Fournier contributes significantly on offense, but his wildly inconsistent shooting this season has hurt the starting five at times. In December, he’s shooting just 32.6% from three-point range and 36.7% on the season, down nearly 4% from last year.
Piled on top of Fournier‘s shooting inconsistencies is extremely poor defense. With awful positioning and a lack of communication, the former Celtic and Magic sharpshooter has become a liability in some ways. Grimes should be earning minutes, and they should be coming directly from Fournier, considering the defensive value he brings and equal 3-PT success rate (45.5% from three this year).
However, the front office has to save face, continuing to utilize the French native in a prominent role. After presenting him with a four-year, $73 million deal, benching him entirely as they did with Walker is out of the question. However, reallocating 5–10 minutes or so to Grimes might go under the radar.
If Grimes continues to show flashes of production and sustainable efficiency, Tom Thibodeau must follow his own strategy of putting the team in a place to win no matter the decision or consequences.