Quentin Grimes is a somewhat high-risk, high-reward prospect in this year’s draft. A McDonald’s All-American and MVP and gold-medal winner at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 tournament coming out of high school, Grimes was predicted to be a potential top 5 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, a one and done in Kansas under Bill Self. However, he seemed to lose his mojo, only averaging 8.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game and shooting 38.4% from the floor (60.3% from the line), taking a backseat tp upperclassmen Dedrick Lawson and LaGerald Vick. With Grimes exploring entering the draft but ultimately turning it down, Self had already filled his scholarship spot, so Grimes was allowed to immediately transfer home to the University of Houston. He would redevelop his game over his two years there and quietly lead them to the Final 4 of the 2021 March Madness series. While he started the 2021 draft process in the middle second round, Grimes has shot up the charts to the late first due to his excellent showing at the Draft combine, where his defense and underrated passing ability were shown off.
Per game: 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, 40.6% FG, 40.3% 3PT, 78.8% FT
Advanced: 55.8% True Shooting, 10.8 BPM (7.9 offensive, 2.9 defensive), 0.250 win shares per 40
Physical: 21 years old (turns 22 next May), 6’5” with a 6’8” wingspan and 8’5” standing reach, 205 pounds
Grimes’ biggest strength in college was his long range shooting, hitting 40% on high volume - one of only 3 players in DI to make 100 or more attempts (he hit 100 exactly). Not only was he a stable threat off of a catch, he showed good ability to hit 3s off of screens, movement, and the bounce, and also from very deep range, showing tremendous improvement throughout his years in college.
Grimes was also the second leading rebounder on his team at 5.7 per game, something that Houston coach Kelvin Sampson insisted he work on during his time in Houston, a marked improvement from his lackluster 2.5 in similar minutes at Kansas. Notable is that 1.6 of these came from crashing the offensive glass, a big part of the Houston system (they had 7 players average 1 or more a game), so it’s clear that Grimes really bought in.
Of note was that Grimes was one of two players this last year with a top ten offensive (#9, 3.7) and defensive (#5, 2.4) win shares, the other being Evan Mobley (#5, 4.3 and #2, 2.6, respectively). In some research, I’ve generally found that NCAA players that rank top ten in defensive win shares or defensive box plus/minus, especially those shooting above 40% from three, more often than not become significant players in the NBA. Grimes was arguably Houston’s best defender, and would often take the hardest wing or guard matchup. One thing that particularly stands out in game film is his ability to get steals and even block jump shots without fouling too much.
Grimes’ biggest weakness was his general inability to finish in two point land, shooting just 40.8% on 2s. Now, part of that was probably because he was being guarded by the opposing teams’ best wing, but that’s a big red flag. To me, there are two main reasons for this - he doesn’t seem to be able to generate much separation going up and down or left to right, and lacks the touch to get floaters, runners, and lay-ups at different angles, even past players in the NCAA. In particular, this led him to lean back on a lot of shots when in traffic, with his legs much further ahead than his shoulders and arms shooting the ball, giving the impression of not being rather explosive (in reality, he tested a 38.5” max vertical leap at the combine). This led to him taking many more long 2s than he should, settling for heavily contested mid range floaters and long jumpers instead of going to the rack. Additionally, his handle on the ball was never the most secure, with a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover rate for this college career, especially when going left. And, unfortunately, one of his go-to moves was a hesitation dribble into driving left for a floater, which may have worked in high school but went just about as well as you would expect given the previous discussion of his weaknesses.
While Grimes did not display much ability to make plays and thread passes in college, he did impress many scouts at the combine games with more creative upside than expected, so the question there becomes if you buy that these skills were buried by Houston’s three guard lineups or if they were never there to begin with.
I see Quentin Grimes as shades of Dillon Brooks without as much crazy, or perhaps Josh Hart without quite as much strength and inside scoring capability. Grimes’ shooting ability in the pick and roll, particularly shooting the three off of the dribble, pick and roll, and hand-offs, would fit well into the Jazz offense. His defense and rebounding would also be a welcome addition to a backcourt that struggled with both on occasion. But his inability to score from the 3 point line in is frankly career-ending if he is unable to figure out his touch around the rim and he keeps settling for midrange jumper-runner mashups. I have a feeling that his game will translate over much better to the NBA, where more space and strength training will give him the ability to actually get to the rim. However, there’s a reason why Grimes fell out of the 2019 NBA draft. I don’t think Grimes would be a bad pick to develop in the long term under the tutelage of Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and Joe Ingles, but I think the Jazz would be better served by fulfilling a bigger need around guarding large 3s, 4s, and small-ball fives.