A tense few days for New York Knicks fans drew to a close in exciting fashion as the team selected Frank Ntilikina with the eighth-overall selection in Thursday night’s 2017 NBA draft.
The Knicks’ plan for this year’s draft had been skewed over the last few days with reports surfacing that team president Phil Jackson was willing to listen to trade offers for star Kristaps Porzingis.
Largely thought to take a guard, whether it was NC State’s Dennis Smith, Ntilikina or Kentucky’s Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen was thrown into the mix as Porzingis’ replacement should he have been dealt. Markkanen was taken seventh overall by the Chicago Bulls.
The Knicks also had reported interested in Kansas’ Josh Jackson. But the top-four product could only have been acquired if the Knicks traded up with the Phoenix Suns. Once again, that would have likely involved Porzingis.
For holding steadfast and keeping Porzingis, the Knicks have been rewarded with a work in progress that could very well become one of the game’s top two-way point guards in Ntilikina.
While it’s a little more common to see a point guard with size today, a 6-foot-5 floor general is a nice addition to the Knicks’ backcourt.
Ntilikina would provide some added defense at the position, which would provide a sizable boost, especially near the perimeter.
At the FIBA U18 European Championships this winter, the Frenchman averaged 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ntilikina has the ability to be a lethal, well-rounded scorer as long as he can learn to control his body near the basket.
His outside game is solid, averaging over 58-percent from 3-point range in six games at the European Championships.
When the shot isn’t there, he’s had no trouble getting rid of the ball, averaging 4.5 assists per game.
The Knicks now have a foundation within the backcourt to build upon as he will be working definitely be working with Courtney Lee, Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez.