The New York Knicks have quite the rebuild on their hands, with or without Carmelo Anthony on the roster. While Anthony’s future with the Knicks seems to be completely up in the air, and trade rumors likely to remain hot throughout the offseason, the team needs to find their future in the 2017 NBA draft. Unfortunately, as the draft draws closer, that seems less and less likely that it’ll be the case.
According to Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post, the Knicks are “enamored” with 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina.
A 6-foot-5 point guard with a seven-foot wingspan sounds amazing on paper, right? Unfortunately, this would be about the definition of the Knicks doing something we’ve grown accustomed to them doing in recent years. New York holds the No. 8 pick in the draft and there’s a strong possibility that either NC State PG Dennis Smith Jr. or Kentucky SG Malik Monk could be available. Either of those players would be more instant-impact options than Ntilikina.
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Even more than that, the selections would have high upside, make an impact and give the fans something to get excited about. Recently, Bleacher Report posted their mock draft, and they had Ntilikina going to the Knicks, but the argument wasn’t exactly one that leaves your jaw on the floor.
We’ve had Frank Ntilikina going to the New York Knicks for months, and with the draft just over a week away, the match still seems likely.
He’s still building his case overseas, too, with Strasbourg IG now in the finals of the LNB Pro A playoffs. At 18 years old, Ntilikina has been starting and contributing, having just gone for 10 points, three assists and two steals to help his team advance.
On the downside for the Knicks, it seems unlikely he’ll be available to come over for a workout. But New York has thoroughly scouted Ntilikina, particularly over the past month.
To clarify, the Knicks are looking at drafting a player who won’t even be working out for them more than likely. That stat line above also obviously isn’t the biggest of selling points. As Joe Giglio of NJ.com pointed out, Ntilikina does fit the Knicks’ triangle offense but also explains that it’s going to take him time to get acclimated to playing at the NBA level.
There is a positive to Ntilikina’s game, which is that he can shoot it from 3-point range. Giglio pointed out that he’s hit on 40 percent of his 3-pointers during 70 professional games in three seasons. That would pair well with Kristaps Porzingis in a pick-and-roll type of offense. Not only would him knocking down threes help to open up the floor a bit for Porzingis, but it could get Anthony (assuming he’s in town) more open looks as well.
While the reviews on Ntilikina’s game are mixed at this point, it seems that CBS New York’s John Schmeelk may have hit the nail on the head. He said that the French point guard could become a “solid role guy,” but that it’s “apparent he’d be hard-pressed to morph into an elite NBA guard.”
Unfortunately, a solid role guy isn’t what the Knicks should be looking for at No. 8 in a draft that’s this loaded with talent. Time will tell, but at this point, it’d be more surprising if the Knicks passed on Ntilikina than if they drafted him.
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