New York Knicks: 5 Reasons Why Frank Ntilikina was the Right Pick
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is introduced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Although much of the fanbase is unenthused, we bring you five reasons why the New York Knicks selection of Frank Ntilikina was the right one.

There is a level of skepticism expressed by fans of the NBA when foreign players are selected in the lottery of the draft. New York Knicks fans are familiar with this, as boos rang out two years ago when Kristaps Porzingis was selected fourth overall.

This year, the team chose French guard Frank Ntilikina despite known prospects Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk still on the board. Here are five reasons why the Knicks made the right pick going with the Frenchman.

Physique

What immediately stands out for this prospect is Ntilikina stands 6-foot-5 with a wingspan of 7-foot. That an elite size for the point guard position and would allow him to easily defend shooting guards in the NBA. There is room for him to grow into a more solid build as he gets stronger which will help his game long term. Although he is not a jump out the gym athlete, his length will play a major role in his ability to finish above the rim.

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Defense

The part of Ntilikina’s game that is most translatable to the NBA today is his potential as a lock down defender. Ntilikina size will allow him to consistently guard positions 1-3 on a nightly basis. In today’s position less NBA, it is important to have players who can guard multiple positions on switches, which Ntilikina will be able to do. He possesses quick feet allowing him to stay in front his opponents. His length will allow for easy contests on jump shots and will also be useful in playing passing lanes. He gives maximum effort and demonstrates a high IQ in pick and roll defense. Most importantly, Ntilikina has shown a willingness to commit to the defensive side as you can see him consistently fighting through screens and sticking with his man. The capability on defense was a separating factor between him and the other more offensively proven prospects that were available.

Most importantly, Ntilikina has shown a willingness to commit to the defensive side as you can see him consistently fighting through screens and sticking with his man. The capability on defense was a separating factor between him and the other more offensively proven prospects that were available.

Fit for the System

Hate it or love it, the triangle is here to stay for the immediate future. When committing to a system or certain style of play, it is important to have players who buy in, as well as fit in. That has been the most glaring issue with the Knicks rosters that have been assembled over the past few years. Ntilikina can break that mold. His size is an immediate fit for Jackson’s pattern of having bigger guards.

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is interviewed after being introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What’s great about Ntilikina’s game is he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to have an impact. That is huge from the point guard position in the triangle system. Teams like the Spurs and Warriors are great due to their commitment to the style of basketball that they play and their ability to find players who fit the bill. While Smith Jr. possesses elite athleticism, he would not be a good fit for the more team-oriented style the Knicks are attempting to implement. Although Jackson’s success is questionable at best, the thinking behind this selection is spot on.

While Smith Jr. possesses elite athleticism, he would not be a good fit for the more team-oriented style the Knicks are attempting to implement. Although Jackson’s success is questionable at best, the thinking behind this selection is spot on.

IQ

Ntilikina signed on with Strasbourg at the age of 15 and made his professional debut a year later. He’s played two years in one of the top professional leagues the world has to offer. He makes up for his lack of dynamic athleticism with his understanding and feel for the game. Ntilikina has already demonstrated a good comprehension of pick and roll basketball. It would be silly for the Knicks not to take advantage of this skill with him and Kristaps Porzingis. Jackson expressed his appreciation for Ntilikina’s court awareness and ability to adapt to playing different styles of basketball. There will be a learning curve as he adjusts to the speed and athleticism of the NBA. However, he possesses the basketball smarts to grow into the role the Knicks need him to fit.

Jackson expressed his appreciation for Ntilikina’s court awareness and ability to adapt to playing different styles of basketball. There will be a learning curve as he adjusts to the speed and athleticism of the NBA. However, he possesses the basketball smarts to grow into the role the Knicks need him to fit.

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Potential

Phil Jackson’s propensity to take players with serious upside has worked out so far. Porzingis’ play improved in his second season. Last year, relatively unknown Willy Hernangomez emerged as a solid center to pair with Porzingis in the frontcourt for the future. Jackson and Knicks fans alike will need luck to strike three times.

At only 18 years of age, Ntilikina would be graduating high school in the United States, but already has two years as a professional basketball player under his belt. Throughout that time, he has improved, mainly in the shooting department, which was a concern initially. He shot 41.5 percent from three in Europe last season. There is still a ton of room for the two times French League Best Young Player to grow. Offensive development will be the focal point, specifically solidifying his handles and shot making at the NBA level. If he’s able to get it all together, Ntilikina has the potential to be a very special two way player for the Knicks.

Dennis Smith Jr. will most likely be a dynamic player but would not fit what the Knicks are attempting to build. Malik Monk, who was an elite scorer on the collegiate level, will face an uphill battle in the NBA. He is undersized for the shooting guard position and is not a pure point guard. Sit tight Knicks fans, it will take a few years before we can accurately rate how good or bad this pick was.

 NEXT: What Happened to KP, From Coach's Dream to Nightmare 


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