Mitch Lightfoot provided a big boost off the bench and Devon Dotson is quickly emerging into one of the best young guards in college basketball. Oh, and former redshirt candidate Ochai Agbaji chipped in his first double-double as a Jayhawk (20 points, 11 rebounds).
While things seem to be turning around for the team, things have not turned around for enigmatic shooting guard Quentin Grimes.
He finished the game against TCU with five points on 2-for-11 shooting, including an abysmal 1-for-8 from 3-point range. He also had two rebounds and four assists before fouling out in overtime.
In comparison, K.J. Lawson provided 10 points, three rebounds, and made the tying shot to put the game into overtime. Lawson also only played 16 minutes compared to Grimes’ 36.
The season as a whole has been a disappoint for Grimes – who came in as a top-10 recruit by almost every major recruiting service and was projected as a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s no longer listed anywhere on the 2019 Mock Draft from nbadraft.net.
He was also the MVP on Bill Self’s gold-medal winning USA Basketball team this past summer.
Those preseason accolades brought on a lot of high expectations for Grimes, but those expectations haven’t turned into reality thus far. Here are Grimes’ averages on the year according to sports-reference.com:
In Big 12 play: 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.8 turnovers.
At home in Big 12 play: 6.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.7 turnovers
On the road in Big 12 play: 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2 turnovers
The 2018-19 season: 7.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.9 turnovers
Incredibly, Grimes has actually played worse at home than he has on the road during the Big 12 stretch – including a game at home against Iowa State where his only contribution was one steal in 19 minutes. He had zeros across the board in every other statistical category.
Do numbers like these and performances like these warrant a starting spot? No, but what other options does Bill Self have?
Lagerald Vick is on a leave of absence from the team for unknown reasons and Marcus Garrett is battling an ankle injury and not expected back until the game at Texas Tech next Saturday (most likely). For the short term, that leaves Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson.
On the year, Lawson averages 2.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 0.5 turnovers. Moore averages 3.2 points, one rebound, 1.3 assists, and 0.8 turnovers.
Minus the turnovers, those numbers are obviously worse than Grimes’ but Lawson also averages nine minutes per game, while Moore averages 14.1. Quentin Grimes averages 26.1.
That’s a significant difference in playing time and I have a hard time believing that Lawson or Moore couldn’t put up similar or better numbers if they averaged the minutes that Grimes is gifted.
Speaking of gifts, Bill Self has been gifted with playing the crumbling West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse. West Virginia is 10-14 and Bob Huggins just recently dismissed two of his best players.
West Virginia University senior Esa Ahmad and junior Wesley Harris have been dismissed from the team for a violation of athletic department policies. It keeps getting worse in Morgantown this season.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 11, 2019
This would be a perfect opportunity for Self to try out a starting lineup that did not include Quentin Grimes. Why not give his minutes to Lawson and see what it does for both players?
Lawson averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game at Memphis the season prior to transferring to KU. And at 6-foot-8, he gives you a little more height to guard taller players if Self elects to go with a guard-oriented lineup.
Against a team like West Virginia, you don’t have anything to lose by trying this experiment.
Worried about Grimes losing confidence? He already plays and shoots like a guy who has no confidence – despite being in the starting lineup all year – so I’m not sure how much more damage can be done. It’s up to him to change his mental fortitude at this point.
And neither Grimes nor Lawson will make the difference in the game most likely – KU will almost certainly win no matter who starts – but if you’re Self, you get to see how each player performs in a different role.
Maybe coming off the bench will take the pressure off of Grimes. Maybe he can play more freely or perhaps a little harder since he would have less minutes to play. Maybe Lawson gives you the type of productivity he showed at Memphis with the increased playing time.
Grimes looks like a player who thinks too much. He looks like a player who gets overwhelmed by the moment. Coming off the bench could be just what he needs to start playing to his ability.
He looks the part and I have no doubt that he will eventually figure things out. But in the meantime, he should figure things out from the bench.
Again, what is there to lose?
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