Prayers for most New York Knicks fans were answered last week when Phil Jackson and the Knicks parted ways. But the decision added pressure on the Knicks eighth overall pick, Frank Nitilikina.
There is already pressure on him regardless of Jackson being out of town. For starters, he is playing in New York, where expectations are high and failure is not accepted.
Also, he is a top 10 lottery selection. Players that are drafted there are expected to become stars. This is in addition to how the New York Knicks haven’t had a franchise point guard in quite some time. They desperately need Ntilikina to fill that role, that’s why the Knicks drafted a point guard in the first place. It has been the team’s biggest weakness and they must have that problem addressed.
Ntilikina is a pass-first guard and really commits himself on the defensive end. He was brought in for a system that is no longer going to be in place. This is exactly what the Knicks needed to avoid, If Phil was not in charge the day of the draft, do the Knicks even select Ntilikina?
It cannot be stressed enough how deep this year’s draft class was. There were other talented point guards still on the board when the Knicks were picking. Guards such as Dennis Smith Jr and Malik Monk were other options the Knicks could have gone with. Smith Jr and Monk are guys that may be more NBA ready than Ntilikina.
They could put up gaudy numbers right away and Ntilikina looks to be more of a project right now. Especially on offense, his jump shot needs work and his ability to finish around the rim needs improvement as well.
The pressure was already on Ntilikina once he was drafted. Considering the events that followed these past couple weeks, it has now doubled, at least. But the pressure is on all players, it’s part of the business.
The reality is Ntilikina was brought in to fit a system that is gone and other talented players were passed because of it. Knicks fans, we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope this all works out.