Quentin Grimes is your prototypical 3-and-D wing that will provide an immediate impact on the NBA floor. But his journey to becoming a possible first round pick certainly hasn't been smooth sailing. The former All-American and top high school recruit flamed out in his one year at Kansas. After transferring to a much smaller program at the University of Houston for the next two seasons, he came into his own and that team evolved into one of the best in the country, and made it all the way to the Final Four. The 21-year-old is now taking aim at the NBA, and there will be many teams interested in his services.
Grimes is a truly elite point of attack defender, who spearheaded a Houston defense that ranked 6th best in the country. Standing 6'5" and 205 pounds with a 6'8" wingspan, he has the ideal size for a defensive-minded modern off guard. He has the foot speed to check pretty much anyone 1-3 (maybe even some small ball 4's), and he put the opposition in a stranglehold. He often limited any sort of penetration and mirrors his guys out on the perimeter. He cuts drivers off with his chest and has an excellent ability to contest without fouling, and even blocking perimeter shots. And he chips in on the glass very well for someone of his position, pulling down nearly 6 boards a game. He's got the potential to be an absolute menace on this end, especially if he's given the green light to hunt for more turnovers and given less of an offensive workload.
Grimes is also a deadeye three point shooter who operated at an absurd volume. His 100 makes and 248 three point attempts both ranked third in the nation. He was launching well over 8 threes a game (15.3 attempts per 100 possessions) and converting at over 40%. He's got a quick release, despite having a noticeable dip prior to the release of his shot. In his previous two years, he was shooting the ball at a much lower volume and his percentage was in the low 30's. This is definitely the area where he has improved the most in school. His range stretches well out to the NBA line, and he looks to be a strong option to use in dribble handoffs or as a movement shooter. He has flashed a little bit of creation ability off the live dribble with pull-ups and stepbacks, as well as being a complementary pick and roll threat, but still has lots of room to improve consistency and effectiveness in these areas.
In order to expand his offensive game, Grimes is going to need to put in a lot of work. He's solid as a creator off of limited dribbling, but definitely stands to be better. He is definitely going to need to tighten up his handle. He isn't the greatest run-and-jump athlete, and lacks the burst to be an effective shot creator in isolation. I don't think this element will ever be in his cards. Even though nearly 60% of the shots he takes are from deep, the field goal percentage is still ghastly low. He struggles to finish at the cup, and didn't even get there all that frequently due to his subpar space creation and ball handling. He doesn't have all that much of an in between game. He also doesn't have a very good feel for making plays for his teammates out of pick and roll, and probably won't ever be used as an offensive initiator. His NBA role, at least in the beginning, will probably be exclusively that of a shooter and perimeter defender.
Grimes has been a meteoric riser up draft boards as of late because of his Combine performances, and the general lack of attention he was receiving earlier was puzzling. Just a month or so ago, the 21-year-old was slotted to be a late second round pick, and now he may hear his name called in the first round. He's got productive role player written all over him. Any team in contention needs players like these that can provide their team two of the most important aspects for a modern wing. And even if selected by a team who is not contending, they could try to bring out a lot more in his game for the once top high school recruit. This is one of the most realistic options the Sixers could elect to take on draft night.
With the uncertainty of Damian Lillard's long-term future in Portland, it is very possible that the Sixers turn over a good portion of their depth if they want to give Joel Embiid a running mate as lethal as Lillard. In this dream scenario, it would certainly leave Ben Simmons as a casualty to their depth chart, but it's very likely one or more of Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle would get shipped out also. But even after those names, you still have George Hill, Shake Milton and Isaiah Joe, and that's not including free agents to be Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz, both of which the Sixers hold their bird rights to (meaning they can go over the salary cap to re-sign them if they please).
Grimes would be a regular rotation player on the Sixers, regardless of who is or isn't here. A low usage wing who knocks down threes and plays great perimeter defense is a necessity if you're building any successful NBA team, and the 76ers are no exception. Unless they can also nab a starting quality forward, there will more than likely be a hole at the starting small forward position. And I don't think it's a stretch to say that if Grimes were selected at #28, that he would start some games his rookie year, even if everyone is at full health.
NBA comparison: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP was a massively important piece towards the Lakers' title in 2020. He wasn't a go-to scorer, nor a primary ball handler, but he played his role exceptionally well as a high impact guy who could knock down open shots and play both ends of the floor. I think Grimes has a much higher ceiling than KCP on defense. But his role on a contending team who also has their fair share of high profile players will be very similar, at least in the early going. In time, a team may try to unlock a bit of perimeter creation that we saw from KCP back when he was in Detroit.