NBA

Dear Knicks fans: It’s okay to believe in Quentin Grimes

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As the Summer League approaches, Quentin Grimes has made his intentions clear: He came to dominate. After two games, Grimes seems to confirm his words, scoring 24 points in the two wins at New York. The opener started off a little rough, as he drew 1-9 in the first half, but since then he’s been what Grimes fans have been hoping to see.

It is perhaps fitting that Grimes has caught the eye in the Summer League as it could be a big moment in his young career. There have been rumors that Grimes may have a chance to supplant Evan Fournier as the regular season starting goaltender. Could this really happen? Could Grimes go from the 25th pick in the 2021 draft to supplanting the Knicks’ first free agent acquisition in 2021?

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While we here at P&T certainly support the decision to launch Grimes, we recognize that we have no say in the matter. But I’d like to touch on a trend I’ve noticed on social media lately — sort of a backlash to the excitement many Knicks fans feel when watching Grimes dominate in Vegas. This backlash starts from a reasonable premise: Summer League stats don’t matter. Hey, it’s true! Knicks fans need only look back a few years to Kevin Knox’s 2019 Summer League star turn to remember how those Vegas fantasies can turn into harsh regular season realities.

However, this sentiment often takes a very dark turn in the minds of Knicks fans. Because it’s the Knicks — the cursed, incompetent Knicks, who never draft the right guy — you’d be foolish to expect any good from those Quentin Grimes minutes.

I’m not here today to question the decision to draft Obi Toppin, or whether Immanuel Quickley deserves praise despite his low field goal percentage – I’m just talking about Quentin Grimes. And personally, I think it’s weird to doubt the kid. His rookie numbers don’t stand out, mostly due to poor injury luck and Thib’s decision to bury him for the first part of the season, but when Grimes played, he produced. How long have we forgotten his first NBA start, when he dropped 27 points to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. In the 26 games between that Milwaukee game and the All-Star break, he averaged an impressive 8.8 ppg on 42.6 FG%/39.5 3P%. Had his season not been derailed by a knee injury in the first game after the break, he would have been in contention for a rookie team.

Look, I’m one of the most negative Knicks fans you’ll ever meet. I was scarred by decades of Knicks failures. I think they’re going to lose every game, and no halftime lead is too big to lose. But I didn’t see anything in Vegas that made me think his rookie season was a fluke. The kid has remarkable defensive chops. Yes, maybe Frank Ntilikina was a great defender too, but Grimes is different – he’s a legit three-point sniper with the guts to shoot from anywhere on the pitch.

It’s not about curses or institutional incompetence. It’s not about Phil Jackson choosing Cleanthony Early over Nikola Jokic. This is Quentin Grimes, the basketball player. He’s pretty good, and he’s only getting better. Being a Knicks fan requires a huge leap of faith. We now know that we will never sign a first LeBron James or Kevin Durant. We’ll probably never win a draft lottery any time soon because once in 1985 was apparently enough from the basketball gods. If the franchise is going to improve, it will come from players like Grimes – players from more humble backgrounds, who become something better. You can feel confident in his game, Knicks fans, whether he’s in Vegas or on the hardwood MSG. Hell, maybe we can all enjoy it together.

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