The Case for Platoon: Knicks' solution at shooting guard

Quentin Grimes
Quentin Grimes / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Amidst what has been a particularly uneven season for the New York Knicks, they’ve had to search for answers at shooting guard. Last season, Quentin Grimes was the primary starter at the two, but his lackluster start to 2023–24 has forced New York to explore other avenues.

While many fans and pundits may argue that starting Donte DiVincenzo has already been a clear solution, permanently utilizing Grimes off the bench could also be a risky course of action given his defensive prowess and overall potential. The best course of action may be to platoon the two guards.

At present, Donte DiVincenzo is one of the orange and blue’s best three-point shooters. Additionally, he’s developed in terms of his ability to contribute defensively and has created offense through timely defensive gambles.

Bringing Grimes off the bench exclusively is not the answer for the Knicks.

Grimes is a similarly skilled defender but has struggled to shoot effectively. He’s shooting at a 39.1% clip from the field and is firing at a below-career-average percentage from range. Despite these less-than-stellar offensive numbers, there is still a case to be made that he should start certain games.

Specifically, Grimes should start games where the opposing team boasts an elite guard or an elite wing combo. With New York losing Mitchell Robinson’s rim protection for the next few months, it will be especially important for New York to be feisty on the perimeter.

Teams like the Celtics, Bucks, and Heat all do an excellent job of generating quality three-point looks thanks to their versatility. When playing these sorts of squads, it may benefit the Knicks to start Grimes at shooting guard.

Grimes is 6'5, while DiVincenzo is 6'4. Even with such a slight physical difference, it may be wiser to start with the player who gives you more size. While both can make frisky defensive plays, the Houston product’s reach and evolving play style present an upside that could develop as the season progresses.

Such was the case last year after Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau decided to regularly start him. By the end of the campaign, Grimes was 3rd on the team in three-point field goals and 6th in terms of total steals.

Further, a team can never have enough scoring off the bench. There is no question that DiVincenzo could perform well with Brunson and the rest of the first unit on a nightly basis. But the combination of “The Big Ragu” and Immanuel Quickley, who could make an extremely strong case to be a starter, is a potentially deadly advantage that’s yet to be fully explored.

While he is known for being a creature of habit, it may behoove coach Thibodeau and a historically inflexible Knicks team to experiment with how the guards match up with different opponents.