Quentin Grimes was right.
He just needed some touches. Two games with the second unit has made it pretty apparent.
The third-year guard has looked like himself since coach Tom Thibodeau moved him to the bench.
“Just touching the ball, you can’t get in a rhythm without touching the ball,” Grimes said. “I’m just out there playing free, really. Everybody sees it, just from me going out there, playing with guys trying to get me open shots. It’s easy and fun playing out with the second unit for sure.”
Grimes was vocal about his limited role as a starter, expressing frustration with his lack of involvement.
Every shot, he said, felt like it weighed 100 pounds because if he didn’t go in, he was coming out.
In the seven games before the demotion, Grimes scored four points or fewer on six field-goal attempts or fewer. Overall, he was averaging just 5.8 points on 5.7 shots in 22.9 minutes.
In the last two games, however, Grimes has averaged 16 points on 10.5 shots.
He had a season-high 19 in Monday’s win over the Raptors while hitting five of seven 3-point attempts.
Without Immanuel Quickley (left knee inflammation), Grimes was aggressive and even initiated offense on occasion.
It was much different from the passive player who rarely was included in the offense with the starters.
“It’s just I’m touching the ball more, that’s really all it is. I know I’m going to get my shots up with the second unit, really all it was,” he said. “Just getting in a rhythm, just getting the touches, getting the ball in my hands and getting more comfortable, playing free out there. Got to keep building, keep stacking game after game.”
The player who replaced Grimes with the first five, Donte DiVincenzo, understands what Grimes is going through.
He has attempted just four shots in two games since becoming a starter while scoring a total of nine points.
It’s a product of an offense that features three ball-dominant players in Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
The Knicks are 27th in the league in assists at 24 per game, though they did set a season-high with 36 against the Raptors and had 28 in the previous game against the Celtics.
“When everybody’s touching the ball and in rhythm, we’re playing unselfishly like that, the game is easy for us,” Randle said. “That’s when we’re at our best offensively.”
The Knicks have been a strong offensive team all season, really, ranked 10th in offensive rating at 116.5.
That move to the bench seems to have been a smart adjustment by Thibodeau.
“Quentin’s playing terrific. He’s just playing,” the coach said. “He’s aggressive, he’s making real good decisions. He’s shooting when he’s open, he’s making plays when he’s guarded, he’s playing great defense. Our whole bench, I’m really pleased with the way they’re playing.”
The move was embraced by Grimes, who had been a starter for 83 consecutive regular-season appearances dating back to early last season.
It’s easy to see why he was in favor of it now.
This story originally appeared on NYPost