The former Five-Star guard is suiting up for the Houston Cougars in 2019 after transferring from Kansas and receiving a waiver to play immediately. He's shown an immediate flash of brilliance (32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 74.8 TS% in a win over Rice) and should have ample opportunity to regain traction as an NBA prospect this year in sharing lead guard duties with DeJon Jarreau on a talented Houston team as they contend for an AAC title. With terrific positional size at 6'5" and 205 pounds, his physical tools allow him to attack offensively both on the perimeter and inside the paint. Grimes is a high IQ player with outstanding feel for the game and, although he didn’t have the freshman season he and many others hoped for in Lawrence, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that the 2018 McDonald’s All-American and Top-10 recruit can return to form and regain momentum for eventual NBA Draft consideration.
Tale of the Tape
When he's assertive and doesn't hesitate, Grimes has excellent mechanics on his shot. With a quick, crisp release that’s difficult to contest, he can get the ball into the air really quickly. He’s not necessarily an elite playmaker but can create a bit off the dribble, so defenders have to respect the possibility of getting blown by. Grimes showed some hesitation and a lack of confidence in his shot which caused some ugly misses last season, but when he shoots with conviction his balance and lower body strength gives him a clean, smooth stroke.
His pre-shot footwork needs to improve, but his jump is generally straight up-and-down with a consistent landing zone. His combination of size and athleticism gives him excellent elevation both off the dribble, and in catch-and-shoot. His release point is high and, in flashes, his mechanics are really clean and efficient. Despite a tough freshman shooting campaign, Grimes seems to possess some unearthed shooting upside.
While he didn’t perform the way many coaches and scouts expected in 2018, he did post a solid 1.091 points-per-possession on guarded catch-and-shoot attempts. Grimes' natural scoring ability is not something to be forgotten, even though many soured on him as a prospect last season. I hope to see a real resurgence this year from Grimes, especially with a potential uptick from the inconsistent 34% three point-shooting clip. The mechanics and instincts are still there, and could potentially translate well to the professional level if he can tighten things up a bit.
In the clip below, we highlight his catch-and-shoot ability.
Grimes’ shooting efficiency is a prominent swing skill in determining his potential NBA future. The physical tools are there, especially in catch-and-shoot, but he'll need to convert on a more consistent basis at Houston than he did at Kansas.
Intangibles & IQ
Grimes has shown an especially high IQ and feel for the game throughout his time on the AAU circuit and at Kansas. It manifests itself on both ends of the floor, allowing him to be an incredibly well-rounded player when at his best. He hustles for loose balls and is constantly looking to make a play with positive impact.
On the perimeter he changes speeds really well and times cuts according to what the defense gives him. Because he’s not an uber-elite athlete, it’s evident that he’s learned to read and react quickly, manipulating defenders into vulnerable floor positions. Grimes has shown an understanding of how to attack zone defenses by settling into soft spots for easy buckets. Grimes has also flashed the ability to pass at high level, anticipating the defense and helping set up teammates well with his own spacing. He's a solid distributor in both transition and the half court.
On the defensive end he possesses great instincts, as he plays with a nose for the ball and often seems to be one step ahead of his man. He's disciplined and a fiery competitor, so he doesn't let his man have anything easy. While he's doesn't have elite length, he uses physicality along with great instincts and timing to create problems for the opposition.
In the clip below, we highlight his high basketball IQ and passing.
Grimes’ tools and skill set may translate really well to the NBA one day. He has an excellent feel for the game and a strong IQ, which provides a solid foundational floor to build upon in recapturing his allure as a prospect. He's at his best as a spot-up shooter and sound decision-maker, but he’ll need to prove that his that he's regained his confidence and assertiveness as he assumes his new role in Houston.
With an improved three-point percentage and tangible improvement as a primary creator, Grimes could regain some momentum and potentially test the 2020 NBA Draft waters. He projects as a high-floor, backup point guard who can provide strong positional defense with adequate offense to keep him in the rotation. If he has a bounce-back season and leaves the Cougars in 2020 and remains in the Draft pool, he could warrant a late 2nd round flier based on his talent and pedigree. If the progression is minimal and/or the inconsistencies remain throughout the season and into the pre-draft process, he'd likely fall into the Two-Way / Exhibit-10 wheelhouse or choose to return for his junior season.
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