International prospect Frank Ntilikina seems to be the perfect fit for the New York Knicks and the triangle offense.
Barring the immediate disaster of a winning streak, the New York Knicks should have a top-five pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The team will undoubtedly use their selection on one of the many talented backcourt players, like international prospect Frank Ntilikina.
Ntilikina appears to be the perfect fit for the direction the team is moving. The 18-year-old plays the highest level of professional basketball in France, so he’s well prepared for the rigors of the NBA.
His solid frame makes him an intriguing prospect for the Knicks. As we know, Phil Jackson covets guards with size, and at 6-feet-5, Ntilikina fits the bill.
Ntilikina’s calling card is his elite abilities on defense, an area where the Knicks struggled all season mightily. The combination of his size, 6-feet-11 wingspan, and defensive skills allows him to guard positions one through three effectively.
His ability to guard multiple positions will result in less defensive mismatches. This is a perfect fit for the Knicks who tend to switch heavily on defense.
Ntilikina already has a good feel for pick and roll basketball with solid decision-making skills. He can pass to the open man and pulls up for a jump shot if a defender goes under the screen.
While Ntilikina is good with the ball in his hands, he is also comfortable playing off the ball. This is the key to success at the guard position in the triangle offense. Pass-first point guards Derek Fisher and B.J. Armstrong flourished in Phil Jackson’s system while the ball-dominant Derrick Rose never found his stride.
Some knocks on the French prospect include his propensity for turnovers due to loose ball handling. He does not have much experience against NBA level competition, which makes it harder to evaluate his skill set. There is a strong possibility that Ntilikina is a project player with high upside.
Like with all international prospects we won’t know how NBA ready Ntilikina is until he’s actually on the floor, but the Knicks ended up with Kristaps Porzingis the last time they rolled the dice. That gamble is panning out.
The Other Options
Malik Monk would be a great addition to the Knicks team. Monk is a natural scorer that can light it up from anywhere on the court. He also demonstrated that clutch factor, hitting big three-point shots down the stretch of Kentucky’s Elite Eight matchup against North Carolina. Monk has elite athleticism for the guard position.
However, there are question marks about his position in the NBA and if he would be able to handle full-time point guard duties. Luckily for Monk, the triangle would not require him to do as much ball handling from the point guard position as other pick and roll dominant systems.
Even though De’Aaron Fox may be a top two or three point guard in this draft, he is a ball dominant guard that utilizes his speed to break down defenses. He also lacks the ability to shoot from the perimeter, although his form is silky smooth. This makes him a questionable fit for Jackson’s triangle.
Watching Jayson Tatum play is reminiscent of a young Carmelo Anthony. He is a versatile scorer, with a good feel in the post and midrange area. Tatum’s long-range shot improved as the college season progressed.
He is developing as a playmaker and in the modern NBA can play the three and stretch four position in today’s NBA. The question for the Knicks is would they draft a player whose game is so similar to Anthony’s? If they do take Tatum, it would certainly spell the end of the Carmelo Anthony era sooner rather than later.
Whoever the Knicks select will be a marked improvement to their current roster.