Just games into his second NBA season, French PG Frank Ntilikina has supporters as well as haters. It comes with the territory of being a lottery pick in 2017. But how long do we wait for Ntilikina to cross the threshold into an important piece towards our future?
I, like many others, wasn’t extremely receptive to the Knicks selection at number 8 in the 2017 NBA Draft. With the likes of Malik Monk, Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr. still on the board, many in attendance was surprised to hear NBA commish Adam Silver call the name of French guard Frank Ntilikina.
For many of us who don’t watch many games from across the Atlantic, Ntilikina comes to us as an unknown. He didn’t have the fanfare of 2018 Euroleague MVP Luka Doncic so we were unsure what were getting at such a time in our development.
After 88 games in his career, we still don’t know.
During a rookie campaign where Mitchell and 76ers point forward Ben Simmons led their respective teams to the playoffs, Frank averaged a meager 6 points and 3 assist a night in about 22 mins.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to cut it on 32nd Street and Eighth Avenue.
‘I was probably thinking too much on the court which brought my confidence down’ – Frank Ntilikina (9/25/18)
In an interview during media day, he spoke how newly acquired head coach David Fizdale talked to him about playing his game. He also, spoke on how he was asked to be more aggressive offensively.
So after 10 games, seeing numbers like 8 points and 4 assist aren’t ‘shaking the table’ so to speak. Especially with the emergence of undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier.
You see Trier’s aggressiveness constantly on display, his confidence is high and there isn’t a shot he doesn’t think he’ll make. With Frank, it’s taking open shots, but he has to sink them in order to keep the defense from sagging onto another player.
Throughout this season, he has shown his defensive prowess and against Steph Curry‘s Golden State Warriors he put on his best game. Showing his aggressiveness to the tune of 17 points and 2 assist. Though he was a -12 while on the floor, most teams are while playing against the mighty Warriors.
Even in this clip you can see the aggressiveness show. Not sure if it was him going up against Curry or what, but you can see him shoot with confidence, make the right cuts and pass it to the right guy off the screens.
If we could get this play out of Frank every night, I doubt we’d be questioning the final lottery pick of the Jackson Era in New York. But we’d be thinking how much of an important piece he’d be when our goal is the playoffs and not just looking competent until Kristap Porzingis returns from his ACL injury.
The future still looks bright for The French Prince of New York. I believe with time he will become the point guard we need for the Knicks. But he leaves so much up for conversation, that we just have to wait and see.
For now, he is our starting point guard and even tho I have my days where I wish he wasnt, I’m thankful he’s willing to get better and putting in the work during the off season to get there.
Our young core is playing exceptional right now and with Frank being a big piece of that, I’m looking forward to watching his growth throughout the rest of this NBA season.
Photo: - NBA - Getty Images