Knicks Quentin Grimes is the NBA’s king of offensive tackles

Quentin Grimes’ speed isn’t about his feet. It’s about his eyes.

all lined up NBA A player for the 100-yard dash, Grimes probably won’t win. However, a theme emerged during his second professional season: Grimes takes a pass beyond the 3-point arc, the defender lunges to get close to him and Grimes flies him. And on the next pass, it happens again. Then again. and again.

There is a specialized statistic within Second Spectrum, the basketball world’s bible, called the “blow rate”. It tracks the exact quality it looks like: the percentage of time the dribbler is hit by his defender when he drives to the hoop. There are 174 NBA players with as many trips to the paint as Grimes this season, and the 22-year-old Knicks has the best blasting average of the bunch.

One hundred and seventy-four players is no small group. Many of them are fast. And Grimes shares by his defender the most of all.

Topical threats dominate the stats, and for good reason. Opponents prefer guys like Trey Murphy or Aaron Nesmith (Who joins Grimes in the league’s top 10 players) Dribbling with a 3s shot. Defenses plan to run those types of players out of the three-point arc, lock them in hard and worry about penetrating the dribble later.

Grimes undoubtedly falls into this category of player. He has conceded 42 per cent of his three tries in seven match attempts since December 7. But this trend isn’t repeated just because defenses don’t care if he puts the ball on the ground. This is all part of the plan.

“They know about my shooting now, so I feel like it’s kind of opening up my driving game,[they]are shutting down really hard,” Grimes said. “(Assistant) coach (Darren Ehrman) worked with me on that all summer, because he knew that was going to be kind of in the system. … I’m really just trying to see where this defender closes up, and you can go into the middle, the baseline.” .

Next time Grimes receives a pass on the wing, don’t watch the ball, his hands or even his feet. Look into his eyes.

Many young players predetermine where they want to drive before the defender starts closing. If the driver is more comfortable going left, he will go left. If it was a pass to a certain side of his body, they would probably drift in that direction.

Grimes approaches this moment differently.

“I can kind of tell the way people act so hard at me,” he said. “I can see if they’re coming on my right side, my left side. It’s reading and reacting. Quick decisions. Either driving left or right.”

Then comes the next reading. If help comes from paint, he knows he can get away with it Mitchell Robinson. If someone collapses from the perimeter, they understand they have a teammate open along the 3-point arc.

This is why this skill is so important. Grimes shouldn’t leave defenders in the dust, however Nix They sign up often when he does.

Grimes has become an ideal creator of secondary shots. The Knicks don’t use him to play pick-and-roll games, and he doesn’t go solo except in an emergency. But it becomes automatic when it attacks these shutdowns.

His shots are almost exclusively 3s or layups. He achieves 74 percent of his looks on the edge. He collects an assist more than once every five drives, which puts him in the 97th percentage for the NBA, according to information tracked by Second Spectrum.

“We knew he was a playmaker,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. “He played a lot of point (guard) in high school, so he’s comfortable with the ball. I think we’ll see more and more of that as we go forward.”

It all starts with Grimes racing past a frantic defender, something that happens for reasons beyond conventional speed.

“When you look at speed, it’s mental and physical,” said Thibodeau. So anticipate what’s to come–“Who’s getting close to me?” How do they approach me? He may not seem like a great athlete, but he is a great athlete. But I think it’s his mind, his quickness to anticipate and to read, that’s what makes him really good.”

Grimes’ play was one of the positive stories from the Knicks’ 11-5 hot streak. Here are two more thoughts as the Knicks (21-18) prepare to play in Toronto:

keep it high

Thibodeau has only a few months left to suggest Robinson is the best offensive player in the NBA. That doesn’t sound like a bold claim now.

Robinson ranked second in the NBA in offensive rebound rate last season, behind only him Stephen Adams affiliate Memphis Grizzlies. In 2022-23, he sits in second place again, behind only you…you guessed it, Adams.

It’s fair to say that Robinson and Adams have separated themselves as the league’s two best offensive touchdowners, even if their style has varied. Adams plays under the rim, knocking opponents out of his way and using his palms to block the boards. Robinson, on the other hand, is relentless. jumps over people. His arms are long enough to cover all the paint. He’ll flick the ball five times before finally chipping it away from an overprotective defender.

But there is one habit Robinson can change: Once he catches the ball above his head, he has to keep it there.

Every so often, Robinson grabs an attack board and bounces on the spot. Sometimes, this is necessary. The big men will use what’s called the crab dribble—a quick one-time pound, with both hands in the ground—while changing position to fall back. If Robinson is out of reach, dribble away.

But for those who may not realize, 7 feet is a very long time. And Robinson gives up the length advantage when he makes the ball low, as in this play against Detroit Pistons:

It is not always evasive. Sometimes, his hands would fall off. He occasionally commits it after catching passes, too, as in this late-game spin from a recent close win over Indiana Pacers:

If only Gibson crown They were still around. The basics-obsessed Gibson, now with the Washington Wizardsplayed the previous three seasons alongside Robinson and had never in his life put the ball under his shoulders after an offensive plate (perhaps this is not an exaggeration).

If Robinson could get more comfortable keeping the boulder up, he’d be able to stir an extra bucket every now and then and avoid those unnecessary twists in the process.

Obi’s return

Obi Tobin He’s technically back from a leg fracture that has kept him sidelined since early December, but he’s not ready to play yet.

The Knicks activated Toppin for Wednesday’s win over San Antonio SpursHowever, the 24-year-old did not enter the game as expected. Toppin is still moving on four weeks after missing it. Once he returns, Thibodeau says he will play.

Which means that change is coming.

Thibodeau flipped to a nine-player rotation with 16 games to go. The Knicks have been 11-5 since then. The trainer repeated that he likes to use RJ Barrett With the second unit, a strategy that is easier to manipulate with nine players in turns instead of 10. Barrett is often the first sub out of the game, then comes back to play with the reserves.

There’s a good chance the Knicks will stick to just nine players, even when Tobin is ready to go. So where might he take?

You must be one of the adults. Toppin doesn’t play 3, which makes Jericho Sims the obvious player to give way, given his age and contract. But Isaiah Hartenstein, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Knicks last summer, is also noteworthy. Hartenstein struggled with New York using him more as an edge diver than the high-profile facilitator role he filled with Los Angeles Clippers Last season.

If there is a surprise and Sims keeps his place in the rotation, it will be great to see how Thibodeau uses it. Knicks has always been comfortable turning Sims into all kinds of offensive players, as Thibodeau likes his defensive foot speed. But with Toppin out, Sims played power forward in defense almost exclusively, which meant starting possessions regularly at non-positions. And he did well.

Thibodeau has shown increasing confidence in his defense against elite offensive players as well. This possession is against the Raptors Pascal Siakamwho was in the midst of a career game, sums up the Sims’ abilities:

Sims goes up against Siakam for the final possession of the quarter. He frustrates driving, even if he can barely avoid slipping out of his shoes. He grabbed the All-NBA winger without being deterred by a grating screen of irritant Fred VanVleet. He stays ahead of a man on his way to 52 points. Then, at the last second, he was caught.

Sims still gets a lot wrong, as does Siakam here. It will arrive but the variety is there. It’s his plays on the perimeter that should make anyone wonder if he’s doing the best with Tobin on the defensive end.

And if so, might Thibodeau be tempted to drop Hartenstein, the Knicks’ mid-level exception signing? Toppin can be less threatening than the two capers as Sims will encounter basically anyone. With Hartenstein, the lowered paint guard, the matches are tougher, and so are the blueprints. The Knicks continued this run thanks to a revamped defensive identity. They swarm.

Of course, playing Sims will lead to many of the spacing issues that second unit now has with Hartenstein and Sims next to each other. There is no perfect solution.

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