It was a given that New York Knicks rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina was going to take some time to develop upon his arrival to the NBA. But after Monday afternoon’s 119-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets, the organization got a glimpse of what the French product could become.
The 19-year-old helped New York put together a monster fourth quarter in which they build and held their comfortable advantage, unlike what happened on Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans in which the Knicks blew a 19-point lead.
Almost squandering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead on Monday against the Nets, Ntilikina helped key the Knicks’ final quarter in which they outscored Brooklyn 36-23. He was the floor general alongside Michael Beasley, who also came off the bench to finish second on the team in scoring with 23 points.
On the afternoon, Ntilikina approached his first-career triple-double, recording 10 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to go with a steal and two blocks. One of those rejections was the spark for New York’s fourth quarter as — while holding just a two-point lead — Ntilikina blocked Caris LaVert’s effort on the opening possession. The Knicks would respond with a 14-2 run.
“I played more naturally,” Ntilikina said. “I did what I can do on the court, stopped thinking too much and just helped my team and teammates.”
Should he continue to follow that formula, those triple-doubles are going to start flying in for the youngster, according to his teammate Beasley.
“Frank’s an amazing player. He has to learn what pace he wants to go,” Beasley said. “But as soon as he figures it out, Frank will be an easy triple-double guy.”
He has the makeup to be great. At 6-foot-5, Ntilikina is a point guard with the length that will prove invaluable on both sides of the floor. A developing jumper and solid court vision will also make him a steady backcourt option in New York that is capable of leading an offense.
But, as predicted, the growing pains are prevalent as his situational awareness needs improvement. He’s averaged 5.6 points, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 21.2 minutes per game; numbers that will only improve the more time he sees on the floor.