With Knicks guard Quentin Grimes back, what will happen to the rest of the backcourt?

Zach Macer
quentin grimes, knicks

Knicks shooting guard Quentin Grimes played his first minutes of his second NBA season on Wednesday against the Hawks. However, he came in with about four minutes left; by then, the game was all but over. The Hawks ended up winning 112-99.

“I thought he gave us some pretty good minutes” said Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau postgame.

Grimes suffered a foot injury in the last Knicks pre-season game against the Wizards. It has kept him out until the game against the Hawks.

Grimes’ promise as a player in unquestioned. Over the summer, he averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in the NBA summer league, earning himself to be named NBA Summer League’s most valuable player. His success has had Knicks fans extremely excited to see him perform.

The Knicks can get a ton of defensive value from Quentin Grimes:

Grimes is also a very strong defender, something that Thibodeau loves tremendously. Even though coach Thibs is known to not trust the play of young players, Grimes was able to secure about 17 minutes a night last season just because of how impressive his defense in practice and in-game was.

However, the Knicks’ backcourt is crowded already. One of the most efficient guards on the team, Derrick Rose (shooting 53 percent from the field and 47 percent from three), is only able to find about 13 minutes per game on the court. So, how is Grimes going to find time on the court?

There are two main players who will most likely lose playing time because of Grimes’s return.

Cam Reddish

Yes, Reddish has certainly improved from last season, especially in his efficiency. He went from shooting 41.5 percent from the field last season to almost 49 percent this season. However, even at six-foot-eight, doesn’t provide the one-on-one defense off the bench that Grimes is able to. Thibodeau likes to have one person on the court that guards the highest offensive threat, no matter the disparity in size or strength. For the starters, that player is forward RJ Barrett, who was tasked to defend Hawks all-star point guard Trae Young. However, there isn’t necessarily anyone with that role on the normal bench unit. Thibodeau likes playing shooting guard Immanuel Quickly, so Reddish is most likely going to get the short end of the stick once Grimes does start playing.

Evan Fournier

Even though he currently starts for the Knicks, shooting guard Evan Fournier has been a clear defensive liability. When he is on the floor, the Knicks have been a disappointing -15 in their plus-minus. Last season, the Knicks had a total plus-minus of -94 when Fournier was on the floor. Quentin Grimes had a plus-minus of -54 last season. It isn’t necessarily good, but it is literally 40 points better. Fournier’s strength is his ability to hit consistently from long range, however, so can Grimes. Fournier last season hit about 39 percent of his three-point shots last season, but Grimes hit 38 percent as well. With the added dimension of defense, Thibodeau could turn to Grimes to make sure that the starting lineup doesn’t give up a lot of points.

It is very necessary that Grimes gets playing time. At just age 22, if Grimes has the opportunity to grow into a spectacular “3-and-D” player for the Knicks. However, Tom Thibodeau has a major decision to make about where in the lineup he fits.